I visited a friend one afternoon to drop something round that I’d borrowed. It is customary to give each other a hug when we meet and when we say goodbye, however I wasn’t sure how long I was staying and didn’t want to assume he had time for a chat. So we said our hellos and stood in his living room, my handbag still on my shoulder, as we chatted away for a few minutes.
The conversation paused and he looked intensely thoughtful for a moment. Curious about what he was thinking I was just about to ask but before I could he leaned over, reached for the shoulder straps of my bag, lifted it off my shoulder and put it on the floor. Almost in the same motion and with a tangible sense of deliberateness (as if he’d just put his finger on something absolutely critical that was missing) he enfolded me in a heartfelt bearhug. Both surprised and touched I matched his enthusiasm as I hugged him back.
It was an incredibly powerful moment. The intensity of the connection struck me at the time and the memory of it has remained very vivid for me. What a lovely way to show someone how important it is to see them and be present with them. It has taken me a long time to learn about the importance of touch and physical contact between human beings and it is a part of life about which I have found myself incredibly shy and reticent.
I think I understand some of the reasons for this and it might make an interesting subject for another blog post. This particular encounter, however, really brought home to me just how important a factor physical connection with other people is in my life. The right connection gives a very clear message of “I am here with you” which I have come to realise is something I value a great deal in my relationships with other people.