Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A smile with arms, a laugh with a stronger grip*

Somewhere along the way, we grow up, and for some reason, we trick ourselves into thinking that we don't need hugs anymore. It doesn't help that hugs become much less socially acceptable as adults. But why? I suppose there's always the worry that a hug will be misinterpreted, or the motivation questionned, or that it will be unwelcome. But sometimes all a hug is is a greeting, a show of support, or a simple expression of friendship. And sometimes we need it more than we think we do.

As I write, I'm struggling with thinking that this is going to come accross all soft and cuddly and cutsie, but I really don't think we adults get or give enough hugs. The chorus of a children's song by Charlotte Diamond repeats over and over, "four hugs a day, that's the minimum, four hugs a day, not the maximum..." Perhaps she's on to something. Children get and give lots of hugs. But do we growns ups meet that quota?

This line of thinking came up after I saw this video a few days ago on a friend's blog. It was a video of a man in Korea standing on busy streets with a giant sign that said, "Free Hugs!" Anyone who wanted to could come up and get a hug. The looks on people's faces as they walked by were curious, though there were definitely those who looked suspicious. Most just took photos. Very few people actually went up for a hug, but those who did left with a big smile. How could they not?

Then tonight after Alpha, one of the other girls on the leadership team came up and kind of randomly hugged me, and it was great! I must have given her a weird look or something (why? I love hugs!), because she said, "We don't give enough hugs!" That of course turned my thoughts back to the video, and the leaders and I started talking about the lack of physical touch in our culture. Even just putting a hand on a shoulder will often get you a, "Uh, what are you doing?" look. Of course, after this conversation, we all had to give eachother hugs as we left, and it turned into a great big "hug-in." As goofy as it was, it really made my day.

Now granted, I probably wouldn't go up and hug some random person on the street who was offering them (... oh who am I kidding, yes I would, just cause it'd be fun!), but it got me thinking... so often I go about my life with a sense of isolation from other people. I fool myself into thinking that I don't need that kind of interaction, and worry about giving it to others. But there's something so powerful in human touch. It gives security, it brings healing, it is food for the heart.

Now this doesn't mean that I'm going to start accosting everyone I see with a great big bear hug. But I'm definitely going to try to pass out a few more so if you know me in real life, consider yourself warned! ;-)

* Quote by Terri Guillemets


PelaLusa said...

There are many good things about Canada but IMHO one of the things we've gotten all wrong is our overarching, all encompassing pursuit to "not offend anyone" and "not hurt anyone's feelings". We see this everyday, in every aspect of our lives. In theory it sounds great. But in practice it's destroying our humanity. Hugs are but one example of a small slice of human interaction that is unfortunately falling by the wayside for these 'Canadian' pursuits.

Hillary said...

Hey Pelalusa! Thanks for posting the video, by the way!

I don't know if it's actually a fear of offending that I'm talking about, but it's more just that people are so hesitant when it comes to physical touch here. In our discussion tonight one guy was saying that he spent some time living in Turkey, and that he found it to be a very tactile culture there. Friends would walk down the street holding hands, and people would greet eachotehr with a kiss. He tried to be a little more tactile when he got home, and people just gave him looks as if he were crazy.

Hillary said...

BUT, I do know what you mean about our constant effot to 'not offend.' It gets pretty tiresome sometimes.

Steve said...

well then. i say start up a cuddle party.

Queen Bee said...

Oh goodness, yes, let's not offend anyone. That would just be so awful. :P Neat video, thanks for sharing. Btw, I really really like the quote you used for your title!

happy and blue 2 said...

I've seen a similar video from somewhere else.
The people giving free hugs are always young people. I wonder how things would go if it was an older person with the sign.

The first thing that came to my mind was "Pickpocket" which is sad.

There is a lack of trust in our fellow man that is bred into us as children.

And my last thought..When I coached softball I was told that if a girl was hurt during a game that I was not to go near her. Apparently a coach in the previous season had been charged with sexual assault because he inadvertently touched a young girls bra strap when he was helping her to her feet after she had been knocked down. The girl said it made her uncomfortable..

These videos make me sad for what should be acceptable but isn't..