Tag Archives: cornmeal muffins

Are You Missing Collective Effervescence?

Ono, Choco, Oakley, and Wynn – our cats and dogs – have been our only dinner companions of late.

We recently had a group of human friends to dinner here in Glen Ellen. There were 7 of us, 2 from Madrid, Spain, 2 from Medford, Oregon, and 1 from Los Altos, California – and Andy and me. Getting ready for this dinner seemed unusually stressful for me. It’s not that the guests were unfamiliar. I’ve known the women for 59 years. It’s not that I never give dinner parties (see our blog about Dining In). Rather it’s that I haven’t given a real dinner party for almost 2 years!

There’s been so much in the news lately about what I just experienced. Getting back “in the groove” and meeting up with folks after our long Covid isolation doesn’t necessarily come easily but it’s so necessary. This NYTimes Opinion piece helps explain it all: “Post-Covid Happiness Comes in Groups.”

This NYTimes essay also caught my attention because I thought I could one-up Andy, the Sociologist, with this blog and refer to one of the most famous sociologists of all time, Émile Durkheim. Durkheim was the one who coined the term referred to in the article – “collective effervescence.” Instead of being in awe of my sociological awareness, Andy in today’s Andy’s Corner, ignores sociology and focuses on cinematography.

The essay’s writer, Adam Grant, a psychologist teaching at Wharton, summarizes it this way: We find our greatest bliss in moments of collective effervescence. It’s a concept coined in the early 20th century by the pioneering sociologist Émile Durkheim to describe the sense of energy and harmony people feel when they come together in a group around a shared purpose. Collective effervescence is the synchrony you feel when you slide into rhythm with strangers on a dance floor, colleagues in a brainstorming session, cousins at a religious service or teammates on a soccer field. And during this pandemic, it’s been largely absent from our lives.

Lots of collective effervescence at our friend’s recent Boulder, Colorado, 50th birthday party!

Even if we need the energy and harmony that being with others provides, getting back to socializing seems to be causing anxiety for lots of us – not just dinner-party-givers but also dinner-party-guests. There’s lots in the news about this phenomena.

These wedding guests don’t appear to be experiencing post-Covid anxiety as they enjoy their collective effervescence. Which makes me wonder: do women possibly experience collective effervescence more than men? You can get a glimpse of our grandson Moss – in a long-sleeved white shirt – toward the back of the dancers at this recent Oregon wedding reception.

Though the article references singing in choruses, running in races, or participating in yoga classes as activities that bring about collective effervescence, I have no doubt that dinner parties do the same thing. After our recent dinner party, my Madrid friend emailed a sweet thank-you with the comment, “I haven’t laughed so much for quite some time.”

So here’s my recommendation for getting your dinner-party groove back. Make everything ahead of time and keep it all simple. SIMPLE. Then when the evening and guests arrive, you can kick back and laugh and enjoy every bit of the long-absent collective effervescence. And your being relaxed will relax your guests. It’s a win win situation.

Continue reading
%d bloggers like this: