We All Need A Hug

We've known since elementary school that we perceive our surroundings through 5 senses--sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Children can grow up to be strong and otherwise healthy without any 1 of 4 of these, but not the 5th--not without touch. Most of us have read about the tragic consequences of the overcrowded Romanian orphanages where the babies were never held or touched by their caregivers. A lack of human touch before age 2 leads to a multitude of emotional and physical illnesses, but the powerful effect of touching or not touching another human being is not limited to babies. I have some personal experience with just that.

It all began 41 months ago when I quit lying. I'd be naive to think that such an abrupt behavioral change would be without colossal negative implications. Since many of my lies and the actions lied about were serious and long term, the consequences were particularly disastrous. One of the obvious results of the lies was that I angered and disappointed some people who had trusted me. Others, who were less close, just felt awkward, not knowing what to say or do, and disappeared. No doubt, a few were fearful of any association with a soon to be felon.

One of the good and bad aspects of being here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is that I have more than enough time to ponder things like the relationships impacted by my decisions and actions. One somewhat odd tangent of such "ponderment" is that I'm reasonably sure I can remember every single person who has touched or hugged me in the last 41 months, a period of time which includes a divorce, a child in ICU, a wedding, a funeral, a sentencing hearing and 20 months here.

I can even rate these hugs on a scale of 1-10. For example, a category 1 hug is one of those side-armed jobs that we might give our crazy uncle or aunt who smells funny. A category 3 hug is a "bless your heart" hug that would be appropriate to give Zeb, the village idiot. Unfortunately, I've experienced a few of those. They were more pats, usually 3, than hugs. A 10 is a full frontal hug which lasts long enough to mean something but not too long as to be awkward or illegal. Thankfully, there have been a few of those. too. I have subcategories for males and females in a sense of fairness, respect, and gender awareness, as one of these is a core value at all Bureau of Prison facilities.

There are a couple of reasons I can remember these hugs. First, not surprisingly, there haven't been that many. But secondly and more importantly, I realize with ever-growing clarity that there are some people who have stood with me and carried me and, when near, were willing to unabashedly put their arms around me. Some literally reentered my life from the past. There is no way to adequately show my appreciation for what this means to me every day. But when I leave this place, I plan to hold and hug the people I love more.

I guess that's a warning.