Lonely Together: a lesson from the shire to the cafe


“Lonely, lonely, you must be lonesome…take a hard look at yourself.” –Glen Hansard

I sit in the dim light of this Atlanta cafe and it is quiet in my earbuds, except for the soft hum of Glen Hansard’s voice.

We are all hunched over our iPhones, our books, our computers.

Some people are hunched in toward each other, but mostly, we are together– alone.

This is an odd and captivating thing about humanity– the guy with the bass pro baseball cap is looking for life, just like I am, just like the woman at the bar.

When I was in college, I’d get on the bus and put my phone away and look at the people around me– all people who seemed to be looking down.

I over-saw text message conversations, I watched people stay only in their own world, longing for human connection. But I was right next to them the whole time.

So where do we find each other?

My husband always makes eye contact with people, always wants to see more in that glimpse, and usually does– those eyes, they tell a story, don’t they?

When we first met, I was afraid to look in those eyes of his, because I knew that if I did, he’d see me, all my bones suddenly showing through my skin, all my fears and thoughts laid bare.


Bilbo Baggins, Tolkien’s character hero,¬†smoked his pipe and watched friends pass by his shire home, saw lives dance in the orbs of view he’d been given.

But they had no iPhones there.

They had the hearth and a scone and a piping cup of tea.

They looked upward and eyeward.

I imagine that they saw each other there; even Gandalf saw the ring reflected in his dear friend’s eyes and heart.

The secrets, the deep truths, and the spoken, shared, quiet things- all was laid bare by the fireside and in the tobacco’s smoke-swirl.

Maybe that’s what we are made for– I truly believe it. And if our eyes are really the windows to the soul,¬†maybe we need to give a little more to each other, and be alright with our bones showing all the way through.

So here we all sit, in this Atlanta coffee shop, and whether we’d like to admit it or not,

every now and then we look up from our own worlds and see that everyone looks around a little,

because everyone is asking to never really be alone.

2 thoughts on “Lonely Together: a lesson from the shire to the cafe

  1. My wife, when her children were younger, played a game with them when they were going to meet someone new: they were to report back to her the person’s eye color. That way they learned to make eye contact. It worked!

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