With so many people in the world, why should anyone ever be lonely?
Ona Vitkus was a 104 year-old Lithuanian living alone in Portland, Maine. As a part of a community service project, an 11 year old scout went to her house every Saturday to do small chores which included feeding her birds. The boy, maybe somewhat autistic, was fixated with the number 10 and Guinness world records. He’d even convinced Ona to aim at a world record herself—that of being the oldest person alive. But then the boy unexpectedly died. One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood is a book that makes you want to cry and smile simultaneously. It tells the story of how two people, Ona and the boy’s father, Quinn, with apparently nothing in common save the boy, become friends. Who knows how many Onas and Quinns are out there just waiting to become friends, too.
Maybe people are lonely because they haven’t learned how to be with themselves and with others simultaneously. It’s a problem of interrelating. But reading literary fiction can help. The identification with fictional characters can make us more empathic. Because reading why characters do what they do gives us an awareness that we can take into the real world.
If I were a book, would I be easy to read?
Jeanne Calment is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having been the oldest person ever recorded. Born and raised in Arles, France, she lived to be 122 years old. In 1888, while working in her father’s fabric shop, Vincent Van Gogh came in to buy canvas. She described him as being dirty and disagreeable.
On her 120th birthday, Jeanne is quoted as having said: “I only have one wrinkle and I’m sitting on it”.