Our sense of touch is a magnificent thing indeed. With it, we can tell the difference between hot and cold, sharp and dull, hard and soft; a myriad of textures.
A tradesman can identify objects simply by touch. A musician or painter often talks about the touch on the instrument or of brush on canvas. A touch can reassure; or cause injury. To a blind person, touch is everything. One phone company even coined the slogan, “Reach out and touch someone.”
Watch a baby. To an infant, learning about the world is an experience of touching; when a child encounters a new object or being, the first impression is to touch it. Children soon learn that fingers and toes operate quite differently, and while it is possible to curl one’s toes around an object and lift it, fingers work much better.
As we grow, we learn the joys of touching favoured objects; that special toy we treasure, the softness of a warm sweater, stroking a cat or dog during quiet moments. Sometimes, the same type of touch can have different meanings. A playful slap on the shoulder is quite different than an angry slap on the face.
I remember when my father passed away, after the funeral, everyone went back to our house for tea, coffee, and sandwiches. A friend of the family came to me to express her condolences. As she talked, she nonchalantly touched my arm, conveying sympathy, and friendship. It was a gesture that brought great comfort to me at a time of immense sorrow.
Throughout the years, our senses decline, yet for most of us, the sense of touch remains not only intact, but integral. Some of us however lose some of our sense of touch as well. Those of us who have used our hands extensively suffer nerve damage, reducing our ability to feel things the way we used to. Mechanics may not have the dexterity they once had. Those who sew, seamstresses and tailors, lose sensation in the tips of their fingers from repeated needle punctures. Arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendinitis, and many other afflictions reduce one’s ability to use one’s hands and fingers as in the past. Yet those awkward, injured, impaired hands can still offer compassion, support, love and hope to someone in need.
Go ahead, reach out; reach out and touch someone.