Close Encounters of the Best Kind

I love the relationship I have with Reggie, who owns this summer resort town’s only grocery store. I don’t know much about him–not even his last name. And yet, I’ve eaten his mother’s cooking and the other day, briefly met his wife. We see each other anywhere from four to six weeks a year, depending on how much time I spend on Fire Island. We share moments, not events.

As is true of most consequential stranger relationships, Reggie and I couldn’t be more different. Continue Reading »

Social Strategies for Hard Times

An artist I saw recently on the nightly news had her own studio–but no one was buying.  When people are worried about putting food on the table and health insurance, the artist realized, paintings aren’t usually in their budget.  “But at least,” she told the reporter, “I hope that my old customers will still drop by if only to chat.”

When economics define hard times, it’s important to remind ourselves to take pleasure in the non-material reward of connecting with others.  It doesn’t pay the bills, but it can help alleviate the stress. And stress, as we all know, makes us more susceptible to illnesses, which then makes a bad situation worse.  Researchers put the risks associated with social isolation right up there with smoking and obesity. Continue Reading »