Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Theodore Roosevelt’s eldest child, was a woman known for her wit, and one of her more well-known expressions was, “Fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches.” It’s such a sublimely simple mantra, but there’s a lot of truth and power in it as well. Especially the “fill what’s empty” part. I think it’s far better to fill whatever empty or lonely time you have with something that brings you purpose, even if it’s something minor like working in your garden or organizing your closet. Don’t wallow. No one’s life is perfect, and some people have a harder row to hoe than others, but it feels much worse when you just sit around and let the emptiness fester. Believe me, I speak from experience. For example, when I’m starting to feel like the edges of melancholy start creeping in, I go clean something. Maybe it’s my bathroom, maybe it’s my sister’s old bedroom, maybe it’s taking everything off my bookshelf and then alphabetizing my books.
Fill what’s empty. You’ll feel a lot better. Just don’t fill it with drugs, alcohol, or risky sexual behavior. That will only make things much, much worse, and the point is to avoid that, not induce it.