Thursday, June 25, 2009

huggy bear

I love hugging. There are few things less tantalizing to me than crawling into bed with my husband, either at the end of a long day or at the beginning of one, and snuggling with him - be he lucid (evening) or barely conscious (morning). I can recall spending my single nights alone in my double bed crying not because I was unmarried, getting older, or overarchingly lonely but because, at night, the bed seemed so big. So big and empty. I missed something I had never had.

The young adult phase is a difficult one for those of us who communicate through and are comforted by physical touch. Sandwiched between childhood (where it is your duty to submit yourself to the smothering affections of parents, relatives, family friends, and most members of the church) and marriage (insurance against empty-bed-syndrome), young adults often work, play, eat, and sleep in a hug-less void.

Even for those who claim not to be physically affectionate (first of all, you lie: you just haven't been taught yet), studies show that hugging is actually therapeutic and increases overall health and well-being. Psychotherapist Virginia Satir stated (and is now quoted in one of the cutest/most annoying kindergarten songs of all time):
"We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."
But what about those who don't get their recommended dosage? In the stiff-upper-lipped city of London, England, artist Keetra Dean Dixon has erected an anonymous hugging wall (seen here). The New York Times visited a New Jersey high school to interview the students on the specifics of social hugging, while middle schools in Alabama and Illinois are giving DETENTIONS for hugging (NBC News covered the trend in Onion-like fashion).

Here at TACF, we practice the Christian-approved art of side hugging which definitely has its advantages: contact without conception. I'm horrible at these because I keep forgetting protocol and throwing my arms around people.

I wish all you who are surviving a hug-free season safe passage. In the meantime, get out there and start hugging others - be it side hugging, A-frame hugging, bear hugging, or otherwise. Just don't get detention.