The Human Touch

Where has it all gone? The World? The year?
The life as we knew it? So much has changed but the sun is still here. I know this because it is alive, in person, and shining brightly through the trees and into my window above my loft. The moon is still around. I know this too because I look up some nights and I wonder where some of my loved ones are.

The trees are all fine and dandy. They don’t seem to get into politics or mind the news or the quiet separation that comes with this thing we call “Social Distancing.” Then again, they don’t mind Corona-virus or Covid-19 or whatever we call it.

There was no drought of water shortage this year. The New York reservoirs seemed to do just fine this year. It’s amazing to me. I guess some things improve when they’re left alone. Or, maybe nothing is left alone. Maybe I’m just looking at life through different eyes because the pandemic has taught me not to be so blind anymore. Maybe the reason I notice the trees or the sunlight is because there’s nothing else going on.

We are still mainly closed here in New York. Some things are open but nothing is like it was. And that’s fine, to some degree. I don’t miss the crowds so much but I do miss the interaction.

People can say what they want about Bobby Fischer and the way he went crazy. But Fischer’s last words were as true as they come.
Fischer said, “Nothing soothes pain like human touch.”

I think this is true. I think there are people in this world that contain a certain warmth from the hand. And you meet them sometimes, if you’re lucky. Even if only for a brief spell, you meet someone that has this magic and you find them when you need them most. You feel them because when they touch you, a piece of you is cured, even if only for a moment.

I can say this with all of my certainty because I know this is true. I know this from youth up until now. Nothing soothes pain like the human touch.

Grandmothers have this touch. I know this is true.
Think about it.
My Grandmother died when I was 12. My interaction with her was somewhat limited, but still, I can remember the touch of her hand and how soft this was. Her hands were soft, like a chenille blanket, and equally as warm and twice as comforting.
Hands like this have the ability to stop the cries of children. Tears evaporate, and just like that; the pain is gone.

There is nothing that can duplicate or replicate the true feel of human touch. There is nothing that soothes us like the warmth of comfort, nor is there anything as comforting as being treated like a human when circumstances imply something otherwise.
To be treated like a person; to be real, to be someone worthy of attention without judgement, no matter what the situation is can be more than just soothing. This can be life saving.

I have witnessed this is emergency rooms. I have sat bedside and seen what happens when life is humanized and compassion is better than any penicillin. I have watched as people wept at the fact that without snide or sarcasm, they were simply treated as people. Nothing more and nothing less.

I have been met with appreciation after the doctor left the bedside to explain about the near-death of an overdose and rather than degrade, to be supportive at a moment like this is nothing short of life-altering.

Have you ever felt less than? Have you ever seen yourself as less than desirable or unworthy? Have you ever been down and out or humbled in every sense of the word? Have you ever found yourself in a position where there’s nothing in your pockets and nothing left in your bag of tricks?
You lost your place in line. Life showed up to inform you that you are not as tough as you believed. You got knocked down. This ever happened to you?

In times of great pain or in times of anguish or sadness; or if there were times when you swore you couldn’t bring yourself to face the world, if anything, what was as healing or as soothing as the touch of someone’s kindness?

I gave a lecture at a shelter a few years back. I spoke for approximately 30 minutes (or maybe less) and the entire shelter applauded at the end of my gig. Apparently this was noticed by the administration. It was an honor to learn that no other speaker had ever been received this way.

I stayed for a while and spoke with some of the residents of the shelter. They were homeless. Some lived with mental illness. Some struggled with substance abuse. Some had alcohol abuse disorders. Some were just people that were down on their luck.

One of the women approached me after my presentation. She talked about her life for a few minutes. She told me I did very well, considering the audience, and then offered to sit with me for a while.

“No one else really talks to us like this,” said the woman.
She looked at me with the saddest eyes.
Partly in contempt and partly ashamed, her eyes became slightly teary.
“What do you mean,” I asked.
“Talked to you like what?”
“Like we’re human,” she said.

I never forgot this. I was sent in to create a response and hopefully inspire someone. I was supposed to reach them and yet, it was a little homeless woman that touched me. I was so moved that I felt as if the wind was knocked out of me.

Fischer was right. Nothing soothes pain like the human touch. Nothing opens our eyes like the warmth of interaction. At the same time, nothing hurts like the absence of the above. No touch to warm the soul, no hand to hold, no person to hug, and this is life as we know it now. So for now, all I have is this. And I hope you accept it. I hope this touches you because this is my intention.

Hemingway once said:
“A writer must write what he has to say. Not speak it.”

So, I’ll just leave this here with hopes that I wrote this well enough to send a little warmth your way.
I’ll leave this here until we find ourselves back in front of each other and the world goes back to what it was when we were normal.

What I’m trying to say is I’ll leave this here: to touch you in a touch-less time and hope this works to pull off my trick.

2 thoughts on “The Human Touch

  1. the world still turns, even as MERS-CoV tried to halt everything, its presence had made us more aware of our own mortality, that we may have less time than we suppose we should have, and the lesson to be learned here, is merely to take advantage of every single breath of air we inhale and exhale, because we never know when will be our last!

  2. Human touch it’s the most critical thing of all which is why social distancing entirely breaks my heart. Without it how can we truly say we are alive yes we are here but how deeply are we connecting heart to heart soul to soul?

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