What exactly is happening here?

August 08 2013

The listserve. The listserve is so invigorating, and yet I'm not sure how to express myself and open the conversation I'm looking for without something semi-confessional.

I guess I'll start here: when I was about 5 years old, I loved to hug. Not just hugs themselves, but the act of hugging. My family members always found me clutching around their knees or their stomachs that were too large for me to wrap my arms around. I interrupted class and visits to my ailing grandfather and movie theaters with hugs. When I went to summer camp, I'd stop playing baseball or hop off the monkey bars to give my counselors hugs. I can't imagine 15 and 16-year-olds particularly enjoyed that kind of attention, considering raging hormones and all. Nothing beat a good hug at that age; it was a way of feeling safe, and of feeling out another person in a way that conversation couldn't.

Anyway, I'm not sure when I grew out of hugs, but I did. I wish I hadn't, because the warmth, tenderness, and just emotional meaning transferred in a hug is unmatched. I'm now in my mid-20s, and hugs are for the most part a formality. Half of one is a greeting, a full one is displays closeness that may or may not be present. Becoming a nominal adult (I can't claim any type of maturity at this point) means finding more appropriate ways to express yourself, your affection, your needs. This is something I struggle with, because, for as much as the exterior appears rough and knobby, the same needs are there. A hug, a connection, some manner of dropping one's guard and being fully connected with the world, getting to the soul of another person or an experience.

The struggle is letting that happen, anyway. It might be that my current environs are too daunting to fully engage the people in it. It's just too dang large of a city. But that's not a proper excuse. Why should it be, how could it be? Why avert your eyes from people you don't know at all, instead of smiling and offering something, anything positive to their lives. The most respectable socializers are the people that sit in the park and will talk to anyone. That's how it seems to me, at least.

I don't know what I want to do with "my future." I'm not sure what my future is, at least in some post-facto, plotting-out-my-life-on-a-timeline kind of way. It might be a career, maybe in computers or maybe in writing or maybe in something I've not even thought about up to this point. It hopefully involves a wife and children and many nieces and nephews and more family. But I do hope that I still have at least 70% of my life ahead of me, because there are so many things I want to do.

Chief among those things is bringing back the hug. Maybe by this, I mean something larger than an embrace. A hug might entail being present in your everyday life. It might mean engaging in some kind of love for the world around you and an appreciation of just existing and having this chance to live. That's it; a passion for the opportunity to live, to have life, existence, Sisyphus going up the mountain, etc. I'm not quite sure how to do this, which is why this confessional goes out to the listserve. My biggest question is how other people live and hug, so to speak, the world around them. Reach out.

With much love,
David Rifkin
[email protected]
New York, NY

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