Hugging. I’m not a natural hugger. I can count the number of times my mom hugged me on one hand. She’s not a natural hugger either.
My hugging hang-up haunted me for years. When older women hugged me, I experienced profound discomfort. I’m talking sweaty fear and blushing. And by the time I’d become a passable hugger, someone invented the side hug, and it was all the rage.
Side hugs are for chumps
I HATE side hugs. I’ve worked hard to develop my rudimentary hugging skills, and here comes this silly-safe side-hug hogwash. Perhaps it was created as an anti-predation measure for inappropriate touchers, but it’s a slap in the face to us non-pervs. Sadly, this pseudo hug has caught on like wildfire.
If a woman offers me a side hug, I say “No, thanks. It’s the real thing or nothing for me.” Or, “I’m good, thank you. I’m a married man. You know, because we men think hugs are so erotic.”
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I’m utterly fascinated by time. Specifically, its passage and how difficult, no, impossible, it is to comprehend. I think about time a lot. Time is a simple, linear, straightforward concept that trips me up every time.
Are you comfortable with it? Try this: stare at an atomic clock for three minutes. You’ll see that there’s nothing out of the ordinary about the tick-tock passage of time. But think about getting through the first week of a new job or waiting in a doctor’s office or for the first day of school. Time slows WAY down.
C.S. Lewis on time:
“The Future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
Lewis wrote of our inability to grasp time in his Reflections on the Psalms: “We are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished at it. ‘How he’s grown!’ we exclaim, ‘How time flies!’ as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.”
We struggle to grasp time passage because we weren’t created for it. It’s linear and limited; we’re fashioned for forever. We’re trapped in its constraints just as we’re trapped in our fragile bodies.
We know that time passes at the same rate regardless of how we spend it. But IT NEVER STOPS. We’ve all heard the expression, “Time marches on.” What a sobering thought. Sometimes it seems as if you can slow time to a wonderfully comfortable pace while at the beach at 10 a.m. on a weekday with only a few lifeguards, some hopeful seagulls, the bubbling surf and a good book.
It’s about perspective
I arrived at Navy boot camp on a balmy Florida night around midnight. They processed us, formed us into companies, assigned us “racks” (Navy-speak for bunks), had us fill out tons of paperwork and then finally, two hours later, led us to a sleepy barracks.
I climbed into my rack thinking how incredibly long the day had seemed. Up at 5 a.m., waiting in the processing station, then at the airport, flying to Orlando, riding a shuttle to boot camp … you’d think with all the activity it would have flown by. Not so. Everything was new. And I’d just been baptized in the Navy way—“hurry up and wait.”
I fell asleep and what seemed like five minutes later some crazy man was banging a trash can, calling us names and yelling for us to get up. I blearily looked at my watch—4 a.m.—only two hours after I’d lain down. Two hours had felt like five minutes.
See what I mean? It was like the clock slowed and then sped up. Like in the movies when they make the hands spin.
Ever catch yourself trying to slow a wonderful moment? At that special, “timeless,” instant, you realize how much you’re enjoying life and how quickly the moment morphs into a memory. Oops—there it goes. Better take pictures.
I worked at an advertising agency with a guy who was a bit of a Bohemian. I’ll call him John. John grew up as a hippie with hippie parents; he wore the same clothes to work each day and claimed that God is a spaghetti monster in the sky. And he made fun of people who think God is not a spaghetti monster in the sky.
John was for legalizing marijuana (and drugs in general) polygamy and other illegal activities. He was for whatever people want to do “as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.” He lived for the day. No rules. No worries.
I’m not saying John’s philosophy is ALL wrong. I think he’s half right. There’s something incredibly freeing about taking each day as it comes and living in the moment. But when one lives in the moment with little thought for others or for the future, does he truly live a life worth living?
Another guy, I’ll call him Harry, loved to get John to talk about God as the spaghetti monster in the sky. I think Harry longed to live like a Bohemian, but didn’t have the guts. He was more like George Costanza. He lived vicariously through John (but only when it was safe to do so).
What do John and Harry have to do with anything? This: Seizing each day and living in the moment is the way to go, but, it seems to me, only if it’s a lived with forever in mind. It took me a long time to get this. But I think, in the end, everyone does. Even the atheists.
If you trip over time, too, and/or enjoy this article, please let me know. I want to hear from you.
If you want to make a Californian uncomfortable, look him right in the eye, smile and say hello. Works every time … well, nearly every time. Every now and then, he smiles and says hello right back. If this happens, he must be a recently arrived, newly made Californian.
If he seems refreshingly direct and friendly, he must be a transplanted Texan.
I asked my Californian wife why friendliness makes locals uncomfortable. She says Californians are suspicious of friendly, direct people because they’re unsure of their angle. They see a friendly face and wonder: What does this person want from me? People don’t just smile and say hello to be neighborly. It’s a little weird.
I’ve also noticed that once Californians get to know and trust you, they can be as friendly as Texans. It’s about trust. It’s also about boundaries. Which may be another reason for suspicion toward friendliness—perhaps the friendly person is merely feigning friendliness—one can never be sure, which is why it’s prudent to meet friendliness with suspicion until angles can be figured and filtered for possible offensive properties. Around here, friendliness can offend.
Get it? I know, it’s confusing; I’ve been working this stuff out since I got here.
I imagine sharing this analysis with another Texan—say, a cowboy from Odessa. He’d likely say something like, “I dunno whatcha mean. I’m friendly because I wanna be. Life’s too short to be suspicious. Besides—it’s the right way to be. No sense in overanalyzing it—ain’t got time to worry about offending anyone anyhow.
The way I see it, if they’re offended so easy, somethin’s wrong with ’em.”