In many circles it is customary to greet one another
with a hug. And in some circles they even go beyond the hug and greet
with a kiss. I'm not here to judge the practice of such greetings. Far
from judging, I am only making an observation according to my own
experience and my own feelings. To judge this behavior in a negative
way would be going contrary to Biblical instruction, which anyone who
has read at all what I have written here knows I wouldn't risk doing
Those who grew up in a family setting where hugging is commonplace, or
in some other way developed a habit of hugging sees it as natural and
comfortable. On the other hand, those like myself who touching, or
being touched (even as a small child) was rare to nil are likely to see
hugging as unnatural and foreign. Is one attitude
right and the other wrong? Again, I can't judge. I can only say that
getting such a hug of greeting from me is likely to feel like hugging
an ironing board, stiff and stale.
Family get-togethers are rather like a bag of marbles spilled on a
concrete floor. They are all present, but they are not mixing. Of
course this may well just be my viewpoint, and if
you talked to someone else at such an event you would receive a totally
different perspective. When I am at a social gathering I am like coat
rack standing in a corner. I stand off to myself with a phoney smirk on
my face, feeling totally out of place, and wishing I were anywhere else
but where I am. Of course I am sure this would appear to others to be
interpreted as my feeling too good for their
company. This is not the case at all. My attitude stems
from having a history of not feeling good enough
for their company. And although I have overcome such a feeling
about myself, I still have the habit of being
stand-offish. Not the habit only, but I lack the skills that are
acquired by practice of such associations.
All this to say, I do not feel comfortable hugging.
Hugs, I find, come in three forms. The first of the hugging forms is
what I call the handshake greeting. This ranges from the de Gaulle
(French General hug and kiss on the cheek) to the greeting one receives
at church or other such social events. This hug is shared by one and
all, that is all who enter the door, or who happens to be within
hugging range of the official hugger.
Again, I am not judging this
form of hug. There are many people who enjoy being the hugger of all
and the many. And there are certainly those who have a need for some
show of affection met weekly by such overt shows of Brotherly Love. As
I say, I just happen to not be one of them. Because I feel far more
comfortable playing the part of wallflower on such occasions, when the
hugging commences, I feel totally out of place.
I can not swim. In fact I have what is called aquaphobia. For this
reason I feel very uncomfortable around more water than can fill a
bathtub. If I am around a swimming pool I feel totally out of place.
People around a swimming pool just love to swim. That is why they are
around a swimming pool. A dyed-in-the-wool Democrat does not hang
around a Republican Convention unless he has a fondness for dirty
looks, or just likes to be a skunk in at a wedding party.
Have you ever been on a diet and attended a potluck dinner? Or have you
ever been a teetotaler at an office party? Everyone who is in
attendance at such affairs are expected to partake of what all others
are partaking of. Someone who is not partaking is looked upon as odd
and unfit. Every effort is made to get the one who holds a different
view, regardless of how worthy and righteous is the reason for
obtaining, to conform to the accepted norm.
For me to be around a swimming pool, I have to have my list of excuses
for not partaking of the pool well rehearsed because everyone in
attendance is going to ask me why I am not wet and in the pool.
Often during such occasions,
when the pressure to conform becomes too intense, I will compromise by
dangling my feet near the water at the shallow end and hope no wise guy
passes by and pushes me in.
Times have changed for me. Now that my life is passed the age I ever
expected to live, I see things a bit different then in my tender years
of say: 50 ish. How other people judge me is not so important anymore.
Truth becomes easier to spout than is excuses. Of course people don't like
the truth. And people are not used to the truth.
And because people do not like, nor are used to hearing the truth, they
feel very uncomfortable around the truth and don't know how to handle
it. I find people around truth places them in the same uncomfortable
wallflower position I grew up in. They feel trapped and out of place,
knowing they should partake, but not knowing how.
Now what was it I was talking about. Oh,
The hug I described above is like a handshake. It is neither given nor
received. It just is.
The second kind of hug is a giving kind of hug. I believe there are
many people who are the givers of hugs. When they hug, they are giving
more than offering a greeting. Their hug is genuine and a real sharing
of themselves. There are times I am one of these kind of huggers. There
have been times when I am talking to someone and our conversation
becomes deep and real. We (or at least one of us) is truly sharing
themself from the heart. On such occasion I say: "Can I give you a
hug?" Almost invariably this brings tears to the eyes of one or both as
what has been shared in words is shared in a physical way. It matters
not a whit who, what or where this occurs, I feel completely
comfortable and natural at such times.
Another such time I feel
completely natural hugging is quite similar. Again it matters not at
all who or where: but when I meet, or am talking to someone and I sense
their need for a hug, I offer them one, or sometimes give them one
against their resistance. This very often happens with the lonely and
the elderly who live alone. They feel out of place in this world and
have very little, if any, affection directed toward them. Because of
this lack, they feel out of place in this world, the elderly especially
feeling as if the world has passed them by and left them weak and
hurting on the sidelines.
Sometimes I am not the giver of a hug, but the receiver. There are
those occasions when someone feels especially close to me, or feel a
need or desire to show their appreciation with a hug. On these
occasions I not only feel comfortable hugging, but more than that, I
appreciate such a hug. Usually when I do something for someone they try
to show their appreciation by offering money. I never accept. I gave
whatever I gave, be it something, or some time and effort, from the
heart. Money robs me of my intent. Very often someone does not feel
comfortable giving a hug as a show of appreciation, so they offer to
feed me. This is much appreciated, and I accept their offer as a
sufficient substitute for a hug.
This third category of hug is my favorite. It does not happen nearly as
much as I would like, in fact it happens nearly never. But it has
happened often enough in my life for me to recognize its existence, and
to appreciate its value. This hug is what I think of as a "melting" hug.
There have been very few in
my life who have truly touched my heart. I shouldn't say that, because
it just is not true. There have been many who
have touched my heart, but not in quite the same way as I am referring
When I am with my "one and
only," or another who has stolen my heart, I feel both uncomfortable
and fully at ease. I feel uncomfortable because I am afraid of making
some kind of fatal error in her presence. But I am also ill at ease
because I am neither here nor there.
A rubber band is in its
natural state twice in its existence. When it rests on a table it is in
a natural state. When it is broken it is in a natural state. But when
that rubber band is performing the task for which it was designed, it
is under much stress. In the same way I feel under stress as I sit or
stand in the presence of one I feel close to. When I am out of sight, I
feel at peace. But when I am in her presence, I am not performing that
which is expected of me.
I used the example of feeling like a coat rack at parties and other
such functions. As a wallflower I felt totally
out of place. But as a coat rack I feel functional and comfortable. As
part of the party, I am like a marble on the concrete floor. But give
me a purpose, a job to perform, and I am completely at ease.
It is the same with sporting
events. To sit and watch any sport, even one that
I am very interested in, is very boring and I feel out of place. Let me
participate in the game, even as poorly as I may perform, and I am at
Hugging is the issue. I haven't forgotten.
When I am sitting in the
presence of my Lady Love I feel ill at ease. If I am doing
something for her - washing the dishes, fixing the roof, whatever, I
feel very happy and in my place. Of course this makes her
feel uncomfortable because she doesn't want me to feel as if I have to do
something to be with her. Here we have a situation where either one or
the other of us is going to feel uncomfortable. But at least when she
feels uncomfortable, something around the house is being done.
Sitting in the presence of the one I love I suspect is much like
stretching a rubber band to its maximum. Very stressful. The closer we
come together physically, the more comfortable I feel. Of course
closeness brings on uncertainty and expectations, especially for the
uninitiated. But at least some of the stress is being relieved. A
halfway point of holding hands and staring into one another's eyes is
next to having the stress of distance relieved. It is both sharing and
comfortable. But it is not quite sharing what is really in the heart.
Sharing requires a hug.
Holding hands and moonlit
eyes are culminated in the hug. This hug is both a giving and a
receiving all at once. It is sharing. This hug is when two people who
feel as one melt into the arms of one another. The world passes away
and all that remains is the feeling of oneness and completion. No more
wondering about the unknowable. No more hoping. No more effort to find
a suitable compromise. There remains nothing but the two of you in a
world of peace, wishing the moment would never end.
This article is about hugs and kisses. Kisses begins a new cycle of
discomfort, hopes and expectations. When the completed state of the hug
is passed, a new state of stress is entered into. This new state of
discomfort is not an issue to be covered here, and by me, perhaps
never. I find my happiness and completeness in the hug. No more and no
And you thought a hug was a hug.
Let me tell you youngsters
out there: life and love does not end when you become a Senior Citizen.
I am rapidly becoming a septuagenarian (70 for you non Latin speaking
folk), and my fires are burning just as bright and as hot as they did
in my teens. Over-the-hill does not have to mean out of fuel. Just a
word of hope for upcoming generations.