Reach out and touch…

December 20, 2016

“Strange, isn’t it?  Each man’s life touches so many other lives.”  (Clarence) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Remember when you were little and your mom would take you into a shop or maybe to someone’s house and she would tell you, “Be careful and don’t touch anything”? And even though you were careful, you did touch some things and sometimes something got knocked over and some even were broken. Remember how you felt bad and maybe even cried? Did that make you stop touching things? How about touching people.do-not-touch

Well, life can be like that. Sometimes, even though we’re being careful a relationship that we’ve had with someone else gets broken. Maybe you didn’t set out to break that relationship. Maybe it was just an accident. Then again, maybe it was something that you did knowingly. Maybe you said some things about them that you now regret. Maybe you rejected an invitation or left them off a list of people that you invited to something. Maybe you got to know more about them and discovered some things that are just too alien or repulsive to you to be masked by the things that you liked about them. For whatever the reason, maybe that relationship failed.

You cannot let that failure or a few failures stop you from reaching out and touching others and allowing them to touch you. Maybe you will become a bit more guarded and less quick painted into cornerto open up to others, but you cannot allow yourself to become an island, set apart from others, unapproachable and cold. Man, by nature, is a pack animal. We want to belong to a pack and run with a pack. We are social animals and being social means touching others and letting them touch us. The fact that every now and then, even though we might be being careful, we break something doesn’t mean that we stop trying, stop interacting and being social.

There is a term in social media circles for those who never join in the posts, but who just sign in to the group and read all of the posts. They are called “lurkers”. In real life there are always people who hover around the edges of events like dances, watching from the periphery but never joining in the dancing. They are sometimes called wall flowers. Both of these examples are classic cases of people who look but don’t touch. They are also sadask for dance cases of people who are not touched by others, because of their reticence. If you see someone like that, make the effort to reach out and touch them. They need that interaction and you may be surprised that they actually have the potential to make significant contributions to the conversation, once they are pulled out of their protective, “don’t touch” shells.

In his post today, Jack wrote about the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and how the main character in the movie, George Bailey, was shown by his Christmas angel how important his life is within the lives of others – how he touched them. Like George, most of us don’t stop to consider what impact we might be having on others. In fact, most of the time we have no idea what the impact is of anything that we have done.

Charity advertisers know how to plug into that feeling by showing you pictures of the people that your donation will be helping, so that you feel good about putting your dollar into the bucket. There is another ad for a breakfast food that shows the person who walking manconsumed that food spreading a smile to the many people that he meets that day. His smile is then passed on to another person and from them to yet another.is smile is then passed on to another an then from them to yet another. How nice it would be if we could see the kind word of greeting that we speak or the smile that we share being spread from person to person throughout the day. Maybe we have to use our imagination, but the ripple effect of you smile or you friendly “Hi, how are you?” does spread far and wide.

There is a theory called “Chaos Theory” that postulates that all things are somehow interconnected. Under Chaos Theory the wind created by the flapping of a butterfly in China eventually has an impact on the weather in America, even though the local impact in China was minute. Perhaps the smile that you share today in America will cause someone else to smile in China a few days from now. Maybe the meal that you provide to someone in Africa today because of the dollar that you dropped in a donation bucket will be enough to sustain a child who will grow up to be a great leader in the future. Maybe the hug that you give someone who is hurting today will be enough to draw them back from the abyss and get them started back to a more normal life. Those things will never happen if you don’t reach out and touch others in some way.

Along the way, as you reach out and touch others, you find that you are touched by othersbeing kind 1 and that they have an impact on your life, on the decisions that you make and on how you feel about yourself.  We all seek the approval of others, but what we are really seeking is to be touched by them – to allow our souls to feel the touch of sharing with another’s soul. The feeling that it really is a wonderful life doesn’t take place unless you allow it to happen by reaching out and touching others and them allowing them to touch you.

Reach out touch and be touched today…

 

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Someone needs you; will you be there for them?

March 2, 2015

“We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.”  (Erik Erikson)

There was a long story in the Sunday Detroit Free Press about a local woman, whom repairmen discovered dead in her garage a while back. She had been dead for five years and no one had missed her! The story went into great detail about this woman’s background and how something like that could happen. It wasn’t as if the women had no relatives. She had brothers and sisters living in different parts of the country. And this didn’t happen in some out of the way place; but, rather in a nice neighborhood up in Pontiac, Michigan where homes are fairly close together – she had neighbors. The story recounted that she wasn’t really what we might call a hermit, just a very private person, with no friends locally and with a history of not communicating with her family members, sometimes for years. Sadly, her mummified body was found in her own garage, sitting in her own car. The body was so badly deteriorated that the coroner may never be able to determine the cause of her death. One might classify it as death by isolation. It certainly was death in isolation and that is sad.

In the paper’s recounting of this woman’s back story It is documented that she did have friends and co-workers at one time and even showed up for family events on occasion (rare, but it did happen). She was always recognized by everyone who knew her as someone who kept to herself and that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But she took her need for privacy to the extreme and got to the point where she apparently needed no one. She established this image so firmly in everyone’s mind that there was no one that saw it as unusual that they had not seen her or heard from her in years. She had set her bills up on an auto-payment schedule, so they just kept getting paid after her death until such time as the funds ran out. Eventually her house was repossessed through foreclosure and it was when workmen showed up to repair a hole in the roof that they discovered her body.

Had she taken to heart the little saying from today by Erik Erikson she might still have died, but she would have been missed a lot sooner. We’ll never know if she perhaps could have even been saved by someone who cared and became concerned about her when she didn’t show up somewhere or wasn’t seen for a while.

Gristly stories like this account aside, there is more to Erik’s statement than just watching out for each other. While humans aren’t classified as “pack animals”, we are normally social beings. We depend upon social interactions for reinforcement, feedback and self-assurance. It is important that we learn to like ourselves, but it is also critical thatfriends holdi hands we have the interactions with other humans that confirm who we think we are or help us to become the person that we would like to be. At its most intense and important level this human interaction is with our life-mate. I can no longer even imagine life without the one in my life who completes me. Perhaps that is why the loss of a husband or wife can be so devastating and really why those left behind often seek that level of companionship again.

Another obvious reason that we need each other is that we are all dependent upon the work and contributions of others to supply almost everything that we need. I haven’t seen anything but the trailers for the movie about “The Last Man on Earth”, but I can imagine that initially one could run around breaking into stores for whatever is needed; however, that supply is finite and since no one else was around, there would be no new supplies of anything. Systems such as the power grid that are fairly highly automated might run for some time, but event hey would faultier and quit after a while if there was no one around. So the things that everyone else is out there doing is important to me and what I do somehow is important to them, too.

From time to time we may be in situations where it feels like we’re alone. Maybe we are away from home, maybe even in a fairly isolated location. It is important in time like that to savor our memories of loved ones and friends and woman workingperhaps even to take advantage of modern technologies like Skype to reach out and touch them, if only for a moment. Texting also has a feel of immediacy that is somehow comforting; at least you know that the person on the other end of a texting exchange is there and aware of you. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that sense of loneliness and reaching out to someone for relief. There’s no great honor in being known as a loner and it is no proof of your independence to shun friends and family when you could use help.

On the flip-side of this coin, it is not the right thing to do to allow this to happen with someone that you know. Being concerned about them is not being nosy. Taking steps to communicate with them, even if they have not made thecaring effort with you is reaching out, not reaching in to their lives. It’s not snooping when it’s driven by love or concern, so don’t let your friends or relatives become hermits. Sometimes, if the secrecy and withdrawal of a loved one is caused by factors like drugs or alcohol it is only through your aggressive actions to communicate that you might be able to save them from themselves.  Make them see you and then help them see themselves. Remember that we need each other. Help them see that and we’ll all be better off.