7. Embrace Families
We met Tish and Richard, a French/British couple, while bicycling in the French Pyrenees. They have since become a family of four, with two daughters. While visiting them in England, France, and even in Borneo, we’ve enjoyed watching the children grow up. One of my favorite memories is of two-year-old Ella and me in the back seat of the family car in Borneo giving each other sly, furtive looks, producing peals of giggles in both of us. It’s one of those memories that only I can treasure, sadly, because if I mentioned it to her now (at the regal age of nine), she’d probably reply, “Say what?”
8. Go Outside
The outdoors is a great leveler and equalizer. We find it easier to meet people outside than in, even in once-friendly public places like cafes, where everyone nowadays is buried in their iPads or smartphones. It turns out there’s evidence for this. Dr. Jessica Finlay of the University of Minnesota found that older adults felt especially comfortable in parks and other natural settings talking to strangers. It’s the most natural thing in the world to pet someone’s dog or comment upon the view.
We’ve found this to be true many times. For instance, 10 years ago, while hiking the Coast to Coast, a trail across northern England, we made friends with Hasnah, whom we met while holed up on a rainy day in a bunkhouse (a small hostel) in the village of Keld, Yorkshire. The next day we