Sometime last week, my husband made mention of the “Hands Across America” phenomenon that I somehow managed to miss hearing about in 1986. (Granted, I would have been a toddler, so I guess I get a pass there.) But it got me to thinking about how one might go about starting such a movement again. In this age of distrust, disharmony, this talk of walls and exclusion, I think it might hit home for people to simply reach out and hold hands with strangers.
And as my mind fell down the rabbit hole of thought, I started to think about technology and its lack of tactile physicality and where many of us are, in general, as a result of this. Yes, many bemoan too much screen time or the lack of personal interaction due to tech. (I’m on Team Valor, if you want to know where I stand on the invasion of technology into our everyday lives.) And yes, my lovely steampunk friends like to get on their soapboxes about what that genre/movement/lifestyle does to help fight the screen sanitation in which we otherwise might drown. (Buttons and knobs and levers, oh my!)
But I wonder about the world; where it has been and where it is headed.
First off, I have asked myself: Are we seeing the past correctly? Or has the collective memory faded to a sepia-toned nostalgia? My experience of the world has been full of hugs, hand-holding, loving touches, and fearless, unabashed, reaching out to those around me. I am aware that my own life may not be a benchmark for what was had and now seemingly lost. Children, after all, are often quite good at innocently invading the personal space of those around them.
As the past is unknowable… What about today?
A doctor reaches out to shake my hand and wish me a good day after a routine appointment and inwardly I am stunned at the cool, solidarity of his palm against mine. The priest at my church is leaving for another parish and is on the receiving end of so much well-wishing… and hugs. For a brief moment I am actually in contact with the heavy vestments of his order and the never-thought-of-before distance that had previously been there has suddenly closed, leaving a strangeness that gets me thinking. Why are such veils put up? Why is it so odd, awkward, taboo to tear them down?
Why does my skin feel so thirsty?
I reach out to give a good rub/scratch/rough-house to a family dog and I am somewhat sated. Tongue lolling, eyes bright and tail happily thumping, said dog leans, leans, into me and for a moment I know exactly how that feels.
Is this jumble of thoughts a complete mess? Sure. But I think you know what I mean when I simply lament what I have somehow lost in growing into adulthood.