Starting over with everything..

I lived and worked in Japan for a long time and have come back in a time of economic and ever present family drama to try and gain a foothold in my so-called home country. Armed with nothing but dog fur, a crappy car, a laptop that hates me, I try to see how far I can get.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Reach out and hug someone

Okay, cheesy but cute and it gets my point across... What's my point you say? Hugs are important. Touch is important. I think as adults we forget that sometimes because we need space, we are too busy, we don't like to be close to others in that way. Yet, inside there are so many people who go around feeling lonely and empty and don't know why. I'm not suggesting hugs or touch is the answer to depression, but is the idea that a hug or a simple pat on someone's shoulder could help ease it? I don't think it's that far fetched to suggest that.

Of course, there are creepy huggers and touchy people. I can't explain what would make someone a creepy hugger/toucher, but they exist and they just freak people out. So if everyone you hug pulls away, discuss your creepy hugging with someone to help you be less creepy. Some people say Japan is a place where everyone keeps to themselves. There is no touching of others unless absolutely avoidable. I thought this was mostly true until I met older Japanese folk and started to hang-out with little kids. It's amazing how much I've learned from kids and old people.

Driving to lunch today I was stopped at a light when I noticed two little old ladies on bikes stopped at the corner. I saw the the younger little old lady pat the older lady on the head and gave her shoulder a squeeze. The older lady's face just lit up. I thought about why the first old lady would do that in a place that is so PDA-phobic. Maybe she was having a bad day and her friend was telling her it was okay, maybe she was congratulating her on something, maybe she said something silly, maybe she gave her friend a compliment, so many things were possible. I find that old people here just like little kids are less afraid of touching people because they don't care about other people so much. They see someone who is sad or happy or just there and they'll hug or pat or touch whatever and whomever they see fit.

After I saw these little old ladies, I got slightly homesick, or hugsick maybe. What I wouldn't do for a hug from my momma or my nieces. My youngest niece turns four this Sunday. She and her sister are super huggy people. I really miss that. Meanwhile I'll just have to settle hugging the hell out of my friends here. I like the fact that Japanese people are more willing to touch me here because they see it in the movies and believe it's western culture. It's cute that they are so curious. I've been told by some Japanese friends of mine that they didn't liked to be touched before but now that they have met so many foreigners they love getting hugs and wish it was a custom here too. It makes me feel good inside but a little sad for them too. Sometimes you just need someone to reach out to you. So, I encourage everyone to try and give a non-creepy hug/two-handed handshake/pat on the shoulder/pinch to someone's cheeks/ half-hug/or whatever you can think of to those around you because you never know who's day it might brighten up.


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