can reciting Rabbie Burns with some chums help you live longer?

Robert Burns Night

photo by Paul Garland

Rabbie Burns, Scotland’s favourite son, was born on this day in 1759 and people (including me) all over Scotland and the world will gather to celebrate the Bard’s life. There will be fiddle music, haggis eating, poetry recitals, singing songs and whiskey may even be consumed! How can gathering together with a bunch of people and singing a few songs help you live longer?  Well, the other day I stumbled across this article in the Science Daily. It basically said that being lonely can shorten our life and make us ill …

“loneliness is associated with a variety of mental and physical diseases that can shorten life …  it is important for people to recognize loneliness and help those people connect with their social group before the lonely individuals move to the edges…”

Loneliness and Nature

photo by Raccatography

At the same time I recently read a UN report that said when people feel they are part of a community, they enjoy their work more,  they live longer and generally prosper. So, it does seem that the less connected we feel to the community we live in, the lonelier we are and the greater our chances of getting ill.  It is no surprise then that in many different cultures there are traditions of gathering together and sharing information and news.  In Scotland, apart from Rabbie Burns Night, we have ceilidhs  …

 stories and tales, poems and ballads, are rehearsed and recited, and songs are sung, conundrums are put, proverbs are quoted, and many other literary matters are related and discussed. In more recent decades, the dancing portion of the ceilidh has usurped the older meanings of the term but many still include singing and reciting poems and songs.

ceilidh dancing

photo by   mt_finlayallison

In the Native American culture there are  pow wows …

Pow wow  derives from the Narragansett word powwaw, meaning “spiritual leader”. A modern pow-wow is a specific type of event where both Native American and non-Native American people meet to dance, sing, socialize, and honor American Indian culture….

Seafair Pow Wow

photo by sea turtle

And in Kiribati, where I used to live, there are gatherings – such as  botakis –, where much talking and sharing of stories and dancing goes on. The dancing  is a hugely important part of the event. The movements of the dances tell a story and new songs of important events are written and performed alongside dances from the past.

photos by tony whincup photography

It does seem to me that gathering together and sharing common experiences, especially ones which both connect us with the past and link us to the present, are vital for our health and general well being – and interestingly, research also says that being part of a social network community is no compensation for physical contact. What do you think?  Right or wrong? Bunkum?

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4 Responses to can reciting Rabbie Burns with some chums help you live longer?

  1. john gray says:

    Great post marianne, and how true!

    • Marianne Wheelaghan says:

      Thanks, John 🙂 Vive gatherings of any kind! I’d certainly love to visit a Native American Pow Wow at some time. In fact, I was talking to a friend the other day and he was talking about how important pow wows are for the American Native people and how complex the gatherings are – for example, the pow wows used to also include a “Time to Cry”, when everyone remembered those who have passed on and grieved for them. When they’d finished crying they started celebrating again. I don’t know if this still happens in a pow wow nowadays but it sounded like a good idea.

  2. Joy Claridge says:

    Yes, true. I believe we are always in community in our true spirit and when we come together in the conscious physical world we express that common spirit and nurture our souls. That is why gatherings to talk, sing, dance, tell stories, … are a part of every culture. They meet a common human need. When we share these connections across cultures, we transcend the petty and political and become who we are meant to be.

    PS: I spent last night dancing at a local Scottish country dance social in a place called Berwick outside Melbourne. We finished with piping in the haggis, someone reciting the poem “To a Haggis” and toasting Robert Burns, who I think knew all this – “A Man’s a Man For A’ That”.

  3. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    Very well said! Your dancing Burns night sounded great. Cheers:)

    “…That Man to Man, the world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that…”

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