My daughter and son-in-law have a beautiful chocolate lab. She is very well-trained. From the moment they got her, they have trained her, taught her, loved her. She can do multiple tricks – by voice and sign command. (Not only that, she is a very loving and well-mannered dog!). What does this have to do with “touch”? That is one of her commands – they hold out their pointer finger and say, “Touch” and she touches her nose to their finger. I’m not certain, but I think the purpose of the trick is just to pause whatever she is doing and make contact – a change of focus and a brief encounter just to say, “We’re together in this”.
The other day, I woke up thinking about writing this blog and about how important it has always been for me to be able to write. I realized my writing/texting/emailing is very similar to the “touch” command. Although, really it is more of a request. I need to touch – to know you’re there, you’re okay, to let you know I’m thinking of you and to know you are thinking of me. Are we in this together or what?
In an earlier post, I talked about my mom writing her sister and mother in Texas each and every day. I also wrote about my writing letters in college because I couldn’t afford to call long distance. I developed the habit of “touch” by writing a long time ago and now it is a part of my soul. If I need to tell my kids something important, I will write them a letter or email. If I try to tell them in person or on the phone, I will get too emotional and I will cry. Somehow, the blubbering detracts from the message I am trying to portray. Oh I still cry as I write this awe-inspiring message but at least I can edit and modify the message before it is sent. The editing function in my brain when I am talking and crying is not nearly as efficient nor is the message nearly as coherent.
I often hear people say – why do people text? Why don’t they just call? I know the answer to that – at least in my case. A quick text, “How are you doing?” Touch. “I am fine not having a very good day, ran over my lunchbox this morning.” Touch. “How was your appointment?” Touch. “I got the job!” Touch. “I have a cold and diarrhea.” Touch.
While I will be the first to admit and agree that sometimes, as a society, we are too attached to our technology. People spend too much time looking at their phones instead of looking up at people, scenery, their own family. But this technology also affords us that quick moment in our busy day to Touch. Of course, it would be better to make real contact by phone or in person. Of course, it would be better to spend evenings together chatting. The reality proves otherwise. People are busy working, raising children, running to and fro, preparing for the next thing.
My kids are grown, out on their own, with their own interests and their own activities. Never again will I be a central part of their lives. I am now retired and ready to move on to my “next thing”. If we are only able to see each other once a month, every other month or only on holidays – then we need – I need that Touch.
It is the same with my siblings and friends. Life is change. We grow apart because we’ve grown up and gone in different directions; changed jobs, moved or life has just happened to us and we are no longer close. I can text/email with a question, a comment, a reminder of an old memory. Touch. It doesn’t have to be long or involved, we don’t have to delve up old topics and rehash old wounds. Touch.
For a long time, I felt like a coward. It was always so much easier for me to write than to talk to someone face to face. In the beginning, that was true. I was afraid of confrontation. (Mostly because of the crying thing, I cry when I’m angry or overly emotional. More on that later.) As I matured, I learned how to confront issues face to face -sometimes without crying. At the very least, I got over that angst. Now, my view of writing is very different because I know that is how I touch. Am I justifying my comfort in writing instead of talking face-to-face? Maybe. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. You’ve heard of the 5 Love Languages? My love language is writing. Touch.