I was sitting in the park yesterday and I saw the cutest thing. Two little girls, about 6 or 7 years old, were running around playing, all hopped up on the sunshine and the warmth of the day. The mother of one girl called her because it was time to leave. They both ran over, got a pen and a piece of paper, and traded phone numbers. They hugged each other close with big smiles, and ran off to their respective mothers, calling to each other, “We’ll have a play date soon!” Such effortless, artless happiness. Such open and free affection. It was adorable.
This week marks my first anniversary back in my home state of Kentucky. It has been a beautiful, challenging year. Every day something happens that reassures me I made the right decision to move here. And every day I reflect on some ongoing challenge of being here.
I think my number one ongoing challenge may be shared by many adults in the United States: connection. I am far from isolated, and I would welcome more ways to be connected to people and community. This is why I prefer walking to work over driving, and working at coffee shops instead of at home. To move at the pace of people, and among people, and to know I belong to them and they belong to me.
Somewhere between the age of 6 and late teens, many of us lost that ease of affection that I saw in those two little girls. At some point, it becomes “weird” to say, “Hey. I like you. You’re neat. Let’s be friends.” Or even to say, “My neighbor, I care about you.”
It may not seem like lack of connection is something a massage therapist would notice in their office, but I see it often in my clients. It shows up sideways in the way someone talks about the stress in their life. It sneaks through in folded-up, protective postures that leave necks sore and backs aching. It leaks out in the facial expressions that ask me to please listen, hear and acknowledge.
So, my clients, my neighbors, I care about you. I see you, and I want to hear what you have to say. I hope for you that someone offers you free and open affection, and brings you artless, effortless happiness.
(not the girls from the park, but still adorable. Thanks, free image library!)