COM­PAN­IONS

FLUX Hawaii - - EDITOR’S LETTER - Lisa Ya­mada Editor lisa@nel­la­me­di­a­group.com

Hu­mans have a funny way of talk­ing to their four-legged friends. We dote on them, speak­ing in voices both gooey and stern, as if they are chil­dren who should know bet­ter. We ask them ques­tions and ex­pect an an­swer. “Who did that?” we scold in anger. A pet’s over-the-shoul­der glance is a sure sign of guilt. “Who’s a good boy?” A lolling tongue teases as if to say, “I am!”

You might have guessed that I am a dog per­son. This, de­spite the fact that in one of those on­line “Are You a Dog or Cat Per­son” tests, I came out as a cat per­son. (“You’re highly in­tel­li­gent, witty, and, con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, no less loyal and fun-lov­ing than your dog-peo­ple coun­ter­parts,” the re­sults told me.) But I am de­cid­edly dog. Con­trary to the whole stereo­type about ladies be­ing the lovers of cats, my fi­ancé is the one with a soft spot for our cat, Bubba, a tuxedo tabby we in­her­ited af­ter my niece went off to col­lege.

It’s true that an­i­mals can mean­ing­fully im­pact our lives. They guide us, work with us, and bring us joy. But as sig­nif­i­cant as the re­la­tion­ships are that we have with the an­i­mals we love, they are but fleet­ing mo­ments in the spans of our life­times.

Hu­man re­la­tion­ships, for that mat­ter, may be even more mo­men­tary. Har­vard en­to­mol­o­gist E.O. Wil­son calls the age we are liv­ing in the Ere­mocene, the Age of Lone­li­ness. More Amer­i­cans are liv­ing alone than ever be­fore, and while tech­nol­ogy has ex­panded the breadth of our on­line net­works, it has also con­tracted the depth of our phys­i­cal ones. In the last two decades, the av­er­age num­ber of con­fi­dants an in­di­vid­ual may en­trust dropped from three to one.

But so­cial con­nec­tion is good for you. As shared in this is­sue, it keeps you ac­tive, sane, and healthy. If you haven’t been lucky enough to find a sig­nif­i­cant bond like this, whether with a hu­man or a furry friend, you might start by look­ing at your lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ter. There, many have dis­cov­ered how the most en­dur­ing com­pany is the kind that strength­ens yet hum­bles; that al­lows you to to re­al­ize the best ver­sion of your­self; that loves you even when you do not. I con­sider my­self lucky to have found two such com­pan­ions: one with a frizzy tail and fluffy head that will, in the fore­see­able fu­ture, pass on; the other with strong shoul­ders to lean on even af­ter the last tear has been shed.

With aloha,

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