“To touch a child’s face, a dog’s smooth coat, a petaled flower, the rough surface of a rock . . . to touch is to communicate” (James W. Angell).
WE GAIN MUCH — AND WE ALSO GIVE MUCH — WHEN WE TAKE THE TIME TO TOUCH. Whether it’s the people we deal with or the physical objects that surround us, we need to experience life more directly and deeply through the sense of touch.
It’s true, there are limits to physically touching other human beings, especially in our litigious culture. We must never touch when our motives are anything less than pure, and even then, we must govern ourselves with good judgment and a real respect for others’ privacy. There are some individuals whom we have no business touching.
That said, however, most of us still need to recover the value of physical touch in our lives. In our age of electronic work, not much gets manufactured or manipulated anymore except information. We go through our days without touching much of anything except a computer keyboard — and we “lose touch” with many good things that were meant to be experienced through a direct, physical connection.
How long has it been since you dug in the dirt with your hands? How long has it been since you stroked an animal and really thought about what your senses were telling you? How long has it been since you paid significant attention to a handshake or a hug?
It needs to be kept in mind that no number of indirect connections with people “out there” can take the place of direct connections with those right around us. When it comes to influence, our main opportunity is to influence those who’re physically close enough that we may actually touch them. We must not forget this. Rabindranath Tagore said it well in the form of a prayer: “When one knows thee, then alien there is none, then no door is shut. O, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the touch of the one in the play of the many.”
Who are those whom you need to touch today? Who are those whom, eventually, you will wish you had touched more often? The sense of touch is a unique and powerful gift. Use it appreciatively.
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O, for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
(Alfred, Lord Tennyson)