The warm wind was gently blowing across my shoulders as I sat on a bench under a tree at a beach on Lake Michigan. Contentedly, I was sitting and reading a book, enjoying the fact that I had just taken a day to explore some of Western Michigan (I went berry picking and tried to rent a scooter, but they didn’t have any left!).
An old, foreign, male voice interrupted my concentration as he said, “May we join you?”. Kind eyes stared back at me from a man and his wife, to which I replied, “of course”. He then proceeded to say, with a mischievous look on his face, “ok, my wife and I and our twelve grandchildren thank you…”. A burst of laughter came forth from me as I could clearly see he was joking, and instantly I knew I liked them (even though I instinctively clutched my purse tighter…just in case!).
For the duration of the next hour, Brenda, Saul and I chit-chatted about various topics ranging from the weather, flowers (Brenda kept having me smell a rose she had gotten that morning) and jobs to Apartheid (they are South African). Internally, I was relishing this interaction. Increasingly, I felt privileged to be invited into conversation with such interesting strangers. I suspect they were trying to set me up with their son (an early forties CPA), but I chose to ignore the not so subtle hints they were dropping. At one point, Saul asked if he could buy me ice cream, and I obliged. The smile wouldn’t leave my face, and my heart was tickled that this was actually happening.
Culturally speaking, we are a connected people. Social media has enabled individuals to connect in ways and capacities previously unobtainable. Yet, many find themselves craving connection on a personal level. I’ve heard that humans need around eight hugs (or physical touch somehow) a day to increase physical and emotional health. Sitting on the bench with Brenda and Saul was actually like a hug for me. The interaction was pleasant, meaningful, and enlightening. They gave me a hug and lifted my spirits without ever touching me. Through my short time with them, I have been challenged to share “hugs” either physically or verbally with at least one person a day and would like to encourage you to do the same!