This past weekend I went to the opening of JazzFest. My friend, Gene, came to town from Georgia, bringing his wife and three of their adult children. Enjoying the music and visiting with a friend was a double pleasure.
Among the many wonderful performers this weekend, I especially enjoyed two acts. One was new to me, and one was an old musical friend.
The new one – Samantha Fish – is a stone-cold blues rocker who sounds like a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Amy Winehouse, and now lives in New Orleans. She’s terrific! If you have an opportunity to see her perform, I definitely recommend doing so.
The old favorite was Jimmy Buffet. He played his old standards, from “Margaritaville” to “Come Monday” to “Son of a Son of a Sailor” to “A Pirate Looks at 40,” and his set took me right back to my college days.
Researchers are warning that the next public health issue may be loneliness. There are well-researched links between loneliness and ills from substance abuse to heart disease (fittingly, in a way – isn’t loneliness a disease of the heart?).
The remedies are so simple, and their health benefits so frequently promoted, that we may run the risk of tuning them out – eating healthfully, regular exercise, getting enough rest, maintaining a good work-life balance and good interpersonal relationships.
Sometimes we may think we have lots and lots of friends, counting our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram friends. I think social media can be a tool for staying in touch, catching up on life events, etc. But it cannot satisfy our human need for meaningful, in-person contact and dialogue.
We need other people as we journey through life. Matthew Kelly, an author I read regularly, has written that the best friends are those who challenge and encourage us to be the best version of our self.
As Jimmy Buffet played, I looked over at Gene – we were both singing along to “A Pirate Looks at 40,” and, not surprisingly, we both knew every word. Gene is one of those friends who has truly helped me to become a better version of myself, and I felt both proud to be his friend, and grateful for everything his friendship has given me.
A new study released yesterday, conducted by Cigna and marketing research firm Ipsos, found that the group of Americans most at risk for loneliness and its associated health issues are those between 18 and 22 – our college-age children.
So, as we send our children off to college, encourage them not to neglect their health – eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, etc. And to forge and maintain relationships with other people they see regularly – whether in a study group, a hiking group, or whatever group suits them.
And take your own advice – friends are perhaps the very best antidote to loneliness.
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Until next Wednesday, when we will discuss the benefits of slowing down on a daily basis –