On needing to be touched

Walking home through the park yesterday, I met an old woman visiting from Nantucket. We sat on a bench and watched the twilight and I let her talk. She kept reaching over to stroke my arm. I’ve been meaning to write about touch.  We all need it.  Babies in orphanages die without it–takes about six weeks, and touch deprivation is used as legal euthanasia. Redwood trees link roots with their neighbors (and die when those neighbors are cut down). People love small children, and pets. Tango is all about the quality of the embrace.  Touch enables us to connect wordlessly.  I believe it’s how our cells communicate: blood and lymph and tiny electrical pulses act as messengers spanning our cellular gaps. The universe is a holograph of entities communicating through energy, of which touch is the most direct. I’ve been re-viewing human behavior lately through this lens.  During some recent storms and hurricanes, when the subways weren’t running and people were piling onto buses, I saw many instances of seemingly odd human behavior that make touch-sense. A very homely, grouchy woman, for example, who insisted on standing in the middle of the aisle and forcing people to squeeze by her. Possibly  a way of receiving human touch?  Petting other people’s dogs makes me feel better, the owners don’t mind, and the dogs love it.  Everyone needs touch in some form, whether from people or the sun. Here at summer’s end, I feel replete and sensate with touch, like supplies stored ahead of  winter.  

 

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~ by Shirley Kwan on August 13, 2013.

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