Spoiler alert: I miss being hugged. These last years, I’ve adjusted, redesigned, and redefined life as I found it yet, I’m not gonna lie, being hugged is a major miss. It’s one of those things that get lost in the storm and, it’s only when the winds die down and the skies clear that you see what left the building.
Amid the sunny day to day, we are often too busy to even notice how often we touch one another in one way or another. No, I’m not talking about big cinematic smooches or lift off your feet bear hugs. I’m thinking of those little touches on the shoulder, small of the back, the grab of a hand. Maybe you remember when familiar hands smoothed sunscreen on your back, or fastened a necklace you couldn’t reach. In those moments, few of us ever imagine that one day those moments would become a billboard in your memory.
It’s been said “Americans suffer from skin hunger”. When you realize more of us live alone than ever before and have more intimacy with our cell phones than each other, it makes sad sense. Our American culture makes us more restrained than countries like Greece, France, Spain and Italy, where they hug and kiss – a lot. Today’s culture also makes us cautious about touch, of it being misunderstood, being thought uninvited, or worse, harassment. Our restraint, our ‘aloneness’ have cost us the essence of human connection.
Remember that guy who offered free hugs on the street? Juan Mann, the founder of the “Free Hugs” movement, understood the innate impact of meaningful human contact. The very fact that our culture has given birth to professional cuddlers (yes, it’s a thing) who spread affection through workshops to the touch deprived, should give us pause. The Japanese even designed a chair, with soft, floppy arms that wrap you in a fluffy embrace as an answer to touch hungry souls. Sadly, that’s not an alternative fact.
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” Charles Dickens Continue reading