I reunited this week with an old friend I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic. Before meeting, I was gripped by a now familiar apprehension. Would we regain our old dynamic? Or would we be awkwardly sitting across from each other, unable to recover the rhythms and repartee that came so easily to us?
It was only after the meeting went off without a hitch that I realized I had feared that if we hadn’t found our rhythm, this might have been our last meeting for a while.
Perhaps it is the clarity that comes from having endured a difficult time, but I have noticed in myself and others a decrease in tolerance for uncomfortable or unfulfilling social interactions. Seeing my old friend was thrilling. It was rich in nutrients, almost as if our connection was filling up my personality. But I’ve also experienced the opposite: a quick drink with an acquaintance that seems excessively exhausting to me.
My colleague Catherine Pearson spoke to experts to determine how many friends a person needs to avoid loneliness. (A 2010 meta-analysis found that loneliness is “as bad for physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”) Although no consensus emerged on an optimal number, Catherine found that more isn’t always better: “Spending time with friends you feel ambivalent about—because they’re unreliable, judgmental, competitive, or one of the many reasons people get under their skin—can be bad for you. your health.
Our time and attention are precious and limited, and we control what we do with it. We sometimes forget that. By reflex, we say yes to invitations because we are free. We go to events out of a vague sense of obligation. We say, “Let’s meet for a drink,” because it’s socially easier than just saying, “Take care of yourself.”
In “The Writing Life”, Annie Dillard writes: “The way we spend our days is, of course, the way we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that is what we do. It is an encouragement to live with intention. This is good wisdom to keep in mind when deciding who we spend our time with as well.
How do you spend your days ? Let me know.
WEEKENDS ARE FOR…
🍿 Movies: An Argentinian heist thriller is among our international streaming picks.
🎧 Podcast : Six that dig deep into current affairs and history.
🖼 Art: Fairs in New York include Tefaf, for old museum works, and NADA, showcasing painting and ceramics.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
pancakes on a plate
Here’s a confession: I hate having breakfast in bed. All those toast crumbs, syrup drips, and tea spills make me too tense to enjoy it — on Mother’s Day or any other morning. But I love it when my family cooks me breakfast. So I asked for Jerrelle Guy’s awesome chocolate chip pancakes. This easy and satisfying recipe has become a favorite in our house, with two small tweaks. Instead of baking the batter in one large baking sheet, we split it onto two smaller quarter-sheet pans (measuring 9 x 13 inches) for crisper edges. It’s a trick from the recipe notes, and it works. The second is to eliminate the chocolate chips, as this leaves more room for loads of softened butter, blueberries and a shower of maple syrup. (Want more satisfying recipes? Check out my column this week.)
The Kentucky Derby: Grab your fanciest hat and mix mint juleps: it’s Derby day. The one-and-a-quarter mile horse race is hailed as “the most thrilling two minutes in sport” and the winner gets a shot at winning horse racing’s top prize, the Triple Crown. For many, however, the party is the main draw. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. EST today on NBC, with the race scheduled for 6:57 p.m.