I recently sent a heart-felt card to a family member living in a city much larger than our own. The card said, “When there are no hugs, there arewords. And when there are no words there are hugs.” I read these words repeatedly and began to wish I had more time to connect with those whomatter most – especially the ones living far away.
The pandemic has taught us so much. It has also unraveled many of us to the core. Equivalent to the bursting seams of our hearts, minds andsouls, the fields of mental health and medicine are bursting with unprecedented demands.
We’ve been bent in ways we’re not used to bending and stretched in ways we’re not used to stretching and the internal pressure cooker that lives inside each one of us has steamed, sputtered, and caused our lids to violently shake, rattle, and blow.
Regardless of side or stance, the turbulent pressures of the outside world have placed torrential pressures on the unseen, internal parts hiding in usall. There’s no doubt about it, during this time in history, we have all been afflicted and affected to a degree that reminds us of one true, undeniablefact – at our very core, we are ALL human.
What do we do when our rhythms are forced to change? When outside circumstances cause our day-to-day patterns to pause, flip-on-end and, in some cases, permanently stop. How do we act when the hard things in our lives become even harder, and what do we say when we don’tknow whose voice to listen to, believe or respect?
At any given time, a million different gurus are offering up a million different prescriptive formulas in efforts to make the pain go away as quickly as possible (or perhaps to capture clicks if we’re all sincere). We suck down these patented promises as though they are actual medication tablets,compounded to formulate a promise of a full return to “normal.”
But what do we do when our realities feel too fragmented to simply apply some miracle cream or positive thought pattern? What’s the answer to this frayed, hopeless feeling we all seem to be struggling with? I don’t fully know. But I do know at least two things we all need and can give – a goodword or a hug.
I write a lot, but the truth is some- times there aren’t words. Sometimes it’s sim- ply our presence or our touch that will get someone through. Butconversely, the same is true. Sometimes a good word is all it takes to make a difference, especially during a pandemic when physical presence andtouch aren’t always feasible.
It can be words in a card saying, “I care.” Words in a text saying, “You’re on my mind,” or words in an old-fashioned, handwritten letter thatliterally ink and figuratively bleed our heart’s affection for another onto paper. Whatever agency you choose, know words have the power to changethe state of the human heart, mind and psyche instanta- neously.
So, the next time you need a hug, know there are others in need of one too. And the next time you need a good word, remem- ber others are in needof a good word, too. We’re all in this thing together. And wheth- er we want to admit it or not, the rawest, most basic truth is we are all human and all in need of the rawest, most basic forms of connection.
As author Marion Roach Smith says, “We must all figure out a way to keep our human pilot light lit.”
So, perhaps it’s not miracle creams and prescriptive gurus we need to get us through this blustery season of separation. Perhaps it’s assimple as the words stated in a card – when there are no hugs, there are words and when there are no words, there are hugs.