Whilst working in an open area a few weeks ago, an elderly man approached me on his electric buggy and asked if I had problems with computers,. I was slightly confused with the question, however I tried to explain that I work on computers and hence I tend to have to resolve any problems I have with them.
The man starting telling me about the problems he was having with his computer and that the place where he purchased it from said it was working correctly.
After a dialogue, I realised that it seemed like an internet connectivity issue and which I could not resolve without seeing what was happening on the computer and I said that I would have to see the computer in his home to establish what was happening or not happening. The man seemed happy and I said I would visit in the next few days.
I found some time the same afternoon and went round to where the man lived and realised that there were a combination of issues.
After realising the man’s needs, I set-up his laptop with the latest updates to the Windows operating system, Chrome browser and Gmail account.
Internet browsing and email seemed to be requirements for an Open University course in Physics that the man wanted to enrol on.
Whilst waiting for multiple updates to download and install, a helper came to do her regular housekeeping tasks and then left after she had completed her work.
The updates continued to download.
The man spoke about how he appreciated her coming to help in his flat and especially when she takes him out, as it made him feel human again.
The man is 87 years old, single, lives alone in his flat and has limited mobility with an amputated leg.
His words, about the helper making him feel human again stopped my chain of thought and demonstrated to me what I was doing there.
On immediate overview of all the conversations I had with the man, I realised I was not there to set-up his computer so that he could do an Open University course in physics.
I was there to create the mechanism for him to be a part of a community of people (the other students) so that he had some sense of family, friends and connection to others and perhaps with a topic of interest (learning and physics), as with out being on the course, the man would perhaps spend most of his days alone.
From my research in spiritual experiences, being lonely in the form of solitude is often great, required and preferred when a choice has been made to become more introspective, but when that choice has not been made, being alone can become not a very nice place to be.
I hope to visit this man regularly whether or not he needs help with his computer and the Internet, and I ask you to consider the above and perhaps other people that you may know who do not have a participatory connection with others and perhaps bring some joy back to their soul.