We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
IQ is easy to measure, as an example, but many things which effect our reaching our goals are more difficult to measure.
I know that,when organizations consider people for hire or for promotion, they always consider the person's "intangibles." That includes things like amiability, appearance, dress, comportment, manners, sophistication, cultural knowledge, reliability, tone of voice, and so forth. Their "vibe." A good vibe is a sort of personal capital.
Another intangible which matters in life is social capital, something Charles Murray often speaks about. People obviously vary a great deal in the extent of their social connections and (cliche again) one can easily be lonely in a crowd. Many prefer to be isolated but I think there is a basic human need to be "in community," to have human connections of all sorts outside of family. We are tribal creatures. I feel sad for those who lack tribes with whom to touch base and reconnect during the holiday season. That makes it depressing indeed because it's supposed to be about fun fun fun and party party party, right?
There are many ingredients to constructing a satisfying life, but what a satisfying life means is different for everybody. However, I believe that to be in community, or really a part of multiple communities, is a key component. Some care about it more than others, for certain. With a little luck, the construction begins with an anchor solidly lodged in immediate or extended family, and extends, in separate but often-overlapping circles, out from there depending on what one does or decides to build.
And I do mean "build." Like career, community is never handed to you on a silver platter. I like to connect with interesting, intelligent, positive, and amusing people with interesting and adventurous lives. Who doesn't? On Saturday night, I met a gent, a retired banker, who covered the erection of the Berlin Wall for the New York Times when he was 21 years old. He had taken his grandkids to the Checkpoint Charlie museum in Berlin this summer. I want to include him, and his wife, in one of my circles.
Finding people with whom we have affinity and comfort is not easy especially for the shy, and seeking at least a few which go beyond the superficial is a wholesome and worthwhile life challenge. For example, I do not need any more friends who love to discuss handbags because my handbag interest is two minutes deep. Possibly three minutes.
I discussed the topic somewhat in my post Class, Social Capital, and Character Traits. Sometimes I ask patients to create a Venn diagram of the human communities in which they live and form relationships, beginning with family and extended family as the necessary and solid core - regardless of how one may feel about them at a given moment. It can be illuminating.
The categories (Venn circle diagrams) that I suggest include things like:
Family and the people who are "like family" Closest confidants, closest personal and family friends Old friends Spouse's buddies and closest pals Warm and friendly acquaintances, friendly neighbors, and friendly shopkeepers, doctors, lawyers, and other life helpers Group connections (eg church, clubs, sports friends, favored activities companions, etc) Colleagues and work-related groups or organizations Local community-based organizations and volunteer organization associates and pals
and so on.
It can be a bit of a drafting challenge when there are plenty of overlapping circles. but that results when one has built "an established life," a well-rooted and integrated life over years. I drew one such diagram out for myself last year, and it was an interesting little project.
When people move, they risk losing quite a bit. I don't know how some people move or retire to South Carolina or Florida and rebuild a rich life from scratch. We could not do that, but we would not want to anyway.
It's different things to different people. I enjoy being alone or with my wife. We hike and a really good hike is where you don't see anyone. When I travel I might eat in a restaurant but in my opinion I m alone or trying to be. When the waiter comes by and asks if everything is OK I nod and keep eating. I walk the streets of the cities I visit and enjoy the sights and ignore the people. I have a cell phone but it is turned off most of the time and when it is on it is on silent so if it "rang" I wouldn't know it. My phone is only used to tether my laptop to the internet, display a map or for that day when I need to call 911. I can't imagine being on the phone all the time or on facebook. I suspect that the kind of "rich life" you refer to is not the same as what I enjoy. I have moved a lot and have never had a problem continuing my life as I enjoy it.
Don't get me wrong. I fully understand that for many people their friends and family are their lives and that is great if that's what you want. Not everyone wants that.