I spent 10 years on disability. During those early years, exercise ranked low on my list of important activities, so over the years, my fitness declined. Significantly. After a number of years, I thought maybe I should start getting back into shape so I looked to my neighborhood YMCA for a class that wasn’t too stressful but that would move me toward better health. I decided on a “gentle” aerobic class. Thus began a couple of years of putting my 35 year old body through paces that the 60 and 70 year olds in class could do with ease. And almost everyone in the class was over 60. I felt ridiculous. Lots of judgment on my part toward myself. But it was a class I could do; one that didn’t defeat me. And I got stronger.
At the end of every class, the instructor would have us hug ourselves. Yes, hug ourselves. Put our arms around our own torsos and give ourselves a hug. When she first suggested it, I thought it was the stupidest, most dorky thing I had ever heard. “I am not going to hug myself!” I thought. But everyone else did and I didn’t want to be the only one in the class not doing it. So I did it.
It was surprisingly comforting.
“This is a weird time” is something I hear from just about everyone I talk to. And it is. I never thought I would live through a time where I couldn’t touch people. Where touching people would be considered dangerous. Touching people is my business and my passion. Not just physically— I love my work as a massage therapist—but also spiritually and emotionally. Sometimes there is nothing more meaningful in my life than touching someone. And now.... How does one live without touch? How does one live in isolation? How do we stay in touch without touching? How do we live without hugs from the many people in our lives from whom we are now separated?
Some day we will be able to hug again. We will be able to touch each other. We will be undefeated and perhaps stronger. I send you all love. Hold yourselves close. Be kind to yourselves. And to others. Let us remember the joy of being in touch with each other.