Ode To A Doorman

I wrote this postcard on the plane in 2009 heading back to Denver. I had just finished showing my work at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. It was and is always a fantastic show but the people of New Orleans taught me about what’s most important…it’s not money or fame, it’s the PEOPLE. 
During that show, my assistant and I would leave the hotel every morning to be greeted by this doorman. Not any ol’ doorman, but this warm, loving, kind and compassionate man. With each person he met he would make them laugh or smile and basically just feel like a million bucks. You just couldn’t be in a bad mood around this lovely human being. And yet, "just" a doorman, but had the riches of all the world in his heart and wore it on his sleeve.
 I’m sure you have had a similar experience with a seemingly random moment with a stranger that quite literally turned your day, or maybe even life around. 
I bring this story up because I am worried, I mean extremely worried about the state of our nation when it comes to loneliness and isolation, especially since the pandemic. 
Even the the surgeon general has written a book on the findings. You may have seen this, but loneliness is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety and premature death. He goes on to say the studies show the impact being similar to that of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and an even greater risk than obesity. 
I am worried especially for the younger generation. The lack of social connection can be seen in our schools and communities. Kids are reaching out for everything except each other. Scrolling through social media only adds to their separateness as they see an unreal account of people’s “perfect” lives. Quick fixes, take a pill, suicides and overdoses are off the charts. Working remotely, often never seeing another person all day. Somehow, we have gotten so far off center as a nation. And it makes me sad, but it also inspires me to write, create art, volunteer with kids and women coming out of the system even more than ever….
What have all these studies shown us?
 Findings that are as obvious and as old as the hills. That good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period. That social connections are not only good for us, but that loneliness kills. You can be lonely in a crowd or even in a relationship. I know many unhappy marriages like this, and I bet you do too. 
I am passionate about this topic as I have felt lonely and isolated over the last several years as well. And that is when I reach out to you all. 
We are all in this together and so what can we do? We reach out, make a call to someone you are estranged from, share our time, especially in the ways that share our gifts and our love. We replace screen time with people time. Perhaps join a working shared space so you are not alone all day. We look people in the eye and really connect. Call someone at least once a day. Take a workshop with me in person or with another artist or a hobby you love. 
 Just like that doorman, we can make someone’s day for the better. That taking the time to be around people and talk with people are the greatest riches of all.
Nancy + Team Sweet Bird