You're Not Alone (Even When You Are)

On Saturday, more than 3,000 students lined up outside New York’s Fame! school for a chance to audition. (A total of 18,000 will have auditioned by the end of the process.)

On Sunday, more than 51,000 runners from around the world participated in the New York City Marathon. (Just under 51,000 runners cross the finish line.)

This morning, more than 36 million Americans cast their vote. (Am excited to know what that number will be when the polls close tonight.)

Although the crowds are big, the participants are on their own. The performer must audition solo, singing, playing or dancing with no accompanist. The marathoner must cover 26.2 miles, there are no shortcuts on the way. The candidate places their name on the ballot and enjoys a win or suffers defeat. And whatever you are facing - whether it is leaving a marriage, grieving a loved one, transitioning your work, dealing with illness, making a difficult choice, supporting your family - whatever it is, you do it alone.

Being alone is an unshakeable fact. Companionship does not change its reality.

As the days get shorter and darkness settles in earlier it is easy to sink into the feeling of desolation and despair that comes with winter’s hibernation - the loneliness that accompanies being alone.

And yet.

For the 18,000 students auditioning, there are (at least) 18,000 parents supporting them, friends, family members, teachers and coaches wishing them well.

For the 51,000 marathoners, there were there were 2.5 million spectators, 12,000 volunteers, and an enormous showing by the NYPD (including rooftop observers, sharpshooters and plainclothes officers mixed in with the crowd).

For the hundreds of candidates who have never put their names on a ballot before, there are countless volunteers canvassing door-to-door (or just Oprah), thousands of supporters in their community, and millions of people watching -- excited, inspired and hopeful of the possibilities that lay ahead.

And in your own life, there is a network of people that support you, think of you, want the best for you and would do so much more than you would ever expect them to, at a moment’s notice. So while it is true that we are always alone, it is also true that we are inter-connected in our humanity, in a way that is sometimes easy to forget.

Speaking of which, my morning newsletter alerted me to Harvard researchers’ claim that an interstellar probe discovered last year was actually - ready? - sent by aliens. Vindicating both my husband (who argues this at every dinner party) and Denis Villeneuve (whose spaceships in the movie Arrival look a lot like this probe).

It turns out that, galactically speaking at least, we aren’t alone after all.