It was so wonderful today to be in the company of five friends with whom I have worked in the clay studio for some time. I had not seen them for one month and two days! Many studies and stats point to the importance of a good social/support network. People with a rich life benefit in many ways…they have lower incidents of heart attacks and cancer, they are happier and more well-adjusted. Their outlook on life is more positive. Aside from the act of working in clay and benefits derived from the creative process, the chance to work with a set of people over time is something special and not to be taken for granted. It was great to see them all today and we had a good, old time telling stories, swapping yarns, hearing about how each of us is doing and what we’re doing. Plus, the very act of breaking bread together has much to be said for itself. It’s a tribal act and a bunch of people who regularly meet for lunch are doing much more than just being in each other’s company. They are sharing a primal act. In our case, smile, much of what we order is shared, whether we’re splitting appetizers or an order. Taking sharing another step! It is all a very bonding experience. If this were men who had read Robert Bly, I would expect to hear drum beats and whoops in the background…” male bonding.” Instead, we meet in a pub on the main street of a small town. (No, we don’t drink our lunch!) Some time last year, the pub was sold and the management changed. Well, we didn’t much like the changes we saw and, in terms of new policies and treatment toward employees, we all decided to look for a different place to meet. Over a number of weeks, we sampled different restaurants, looking for one that met our needs. It had to be within walking distance. It had to have decent food. Prices had to be reasonable. It had to be able to accommodate a large party of up to 13 or 14, at times. Today, it was just the core group, six of us; however, the numbers are flexible and there are often more around the table. The three restaurants we tried were a bust. The first didn’t really have its act together for such a large party and the ambience wasn’t that great. The second place was comfortable, if kitschy, but pricey. The last-place was a café art gallery combination that seemed promising, at first. However, after we ate, we talked with the owner for a moment, telling him who we were and, and to our surprise, he immediately started acting arrogant and being critical of the art scene here. Then, he quickly went on to assure us that to he could not represent any of us because his clients were sewn up. He continued, saying that galleries were closing right and left and on and on…. We all looked at each other in amazement. All we had done was to be friendly and let him know we were from the Arts Centre two blocks away. So, after that, we didn’t much feel like going back there, either. We deliberated. Discussing other restaurants, some notorious dives, some not so good, and we ended up making a decision: to go back to our original haunt and take it for what it was worth. That’s what we did. Patronage had fallen off markedly. What had once been a bustling pub, full of people, was now a big cavern with people at only several tables. Well, as far as our little company goes, it means excellent service, since we’re practically the only ones there, good seats, because we can sit anywhere we’d like. In addition, it met all of our other criteria. So, we are back where we started. Throughout the year, week after week, Tuesdays from 1-3 p.m, you would all be able to find us at this little pub. There’s something very comforting about that fact. Continuity. Familiarity. Friendship. And breaking bread.
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