Thursday, September 28, 2017

Holding Hands

Nice title eh? Holding Hands. 
Not something that ever truly appealed to me as a youth, I think it always seemed a bit clingy, childish and (Not to put it in the same basket as childish) too feminine! But today I have a completely new respect for hand holding. 

Having listened to Hootie and the Blowfish singing Hold My Hand multiple times over the past couple of days and meditating on the violence in the way we deny each other in a thousand ways every single day, I think it's all coming together for me. Contemplating the brutality we commit on each other as a matter of course and the twisted lack of wholeness which is engulfing society generally and people specifically I think it's time for a revolution in compassion and why not start where we're at?

Cause I've got a hand for You!  
What better response when I see someone as broken as I am than to say "I've got a hand for you". It's brilliant!

When my grandfather was dying in hospital and I didn't know what to say to him, I held his hand. We'd never talked all that much, there was a world of things I would have liked him to share with me but it was too late and he wasn't ever really inclined to talk much about his life anyway. But, while he lay in that hospital bed knowing that the fight was nearly over he grasped my hand and through his pain looked me in the eye.

As a young man I was able to travel to Indonesia, where I realized that people do things quite differently. In the early 90s it was very common to see young men holding hands with other men, of course girls did the same but that wasn't nearly as confronting, after all, hand holding was a 'feminine' gesture. It took me a while to get used to seeing it, but I lived in abject fear of a man ever reaching out to hold my hand!

Back at home in Ausie land, as my wife will attest, I have not been a good hand holder. It always seemed impractical to me but now in hindsight I can see my attitude has been immature. I'm always wanting to rush ahead and scope the terrain, never 'with' the ones I'm with.

Hand holding took on a whole new meaning for me while I assisted in the birth of my two children. Luckily my hands recovered from the vice like compression they received during that magical moment.

Then as the kids grew and began to walk I found myself naturally putting out my hand for them to hold, from there on holding hands became a completely natural and integral part of my life. Not a road was crossed for the next 10 years that didn't require the holding of at least one hand. 

Besides the assurance of personal safety it provides, holding hands transmits something far deeper. A bond which the act of two hands enfolded around each other is only the surface transmitter of. People can see the physical connection, an emotional connection is assumed but the alignment of spirits is rarely comprehended, although in a way we all perceive that in the coupling of hands, two in some ways become one.

When I started working with Yolngu people again I was confronted with cultural practices very similar to what I experienced in Asia (far and wide actually). The practice might be far less than it used to be but it still happens that men will hold hands. In a lot of cultures it is inappropriate for there to be physical contact between men and women in public. 
In my first month of work I had to take one of our older men to the chemist at the local shopping centre, as we were walking he took my hand and walked with me for a couple of hundred meters that way. I have to admit it was something I was not quite prepared for. I had to put 30 years of overtly non physically intimate masculinization aside and just go with the flow. It was a peculiar experience but one which left me totally questioning the brutish and emotionally vacant nature of western culture. 

Two years ago after a kind of serious accident which left me lying in a hospital bed for an eternity (just 4 days) at my whit's end I was desperate for the touch of another human being. When someone eventually held my hand as I lay there with a fractured vertebrae and a face full of gravel, tears of joy and relief came to my eyes.

Today I see holding hands in a very different way to how it seemed in my youth. I can't help thinking that if I'd never left my home town or Victoria even, I'd still be stuck in the same mentality that impoverishes the emotional landscape of millions of men throughout the western world. Now in my 40s I am only beginning to see just how indoctrinated I was into the world retarded emotional development.

Now, (as in just this year.) I am seeing the extreme significance of holding people's hand, what's more there are people who drift through my life whom I feel an overwhelming desire to just reach out and grab their hand, or put my hand on their shoulder. I have no idea how this will be received but I know I must begin to act on the impulse and try to find my way to being more physically empathetically connected to my fellow human beings or risk dyeing an empty soulless shell.


GreenComotion said...

Holding Hands - Love it!

You know back in the day, it was not unusual for friends of the same sex to put arms around each other's shoulders? Then, it became 'uncool', yada yada yada...Go figure.
Same with hugging to some degree.
I like to hug and give hugs to all types of creatures; humans, animals, inanimate objects, etc. The warmth, love and enrichment I receive in hugging is invaluable to me. I feel the same way about holding hands with a loved one. Especially a child or a partner or a spouse...
My father always held my hand when he took me places, when I was a child.
Damn - I miss that feeling, you know?

I am glad you are ruminating, mate!

Keep wishing for great things for all of us, like you seem to do, much of the time.

Peace & Love,

David J said...

Hey Chandra, sorry it took so long to publish your comment, I've been away for the past week.
Yes it still happens that friends will put an arm around each other, even in a reserved way a hand on a shoulder is at least a form of physical affection that has lasted. I grew up not really experiencing it but have envied the casual expression of affection that appears so natural to some. I think for a long time I was kind of like the Tin man from Wizard of Oz and needed a lot of good oil to loosen me up. Thankfully some good friends at the time challenged that rigidity.
Never had a problem hugging trees though. ;)

Thanks for your comment, I always enjoy your input.

David J said...

Actually there's a scene in Pink Floyd The Wall movie where the young Pink is at a playground, his Dad is lost in the War and he sees a man playing with his child then enviously attempts to join them, he reaches out his hand and it is knocked away... So strong is the need for connection.