If you want to hug the guy in the wheelchair, come on down here. Don’t be shy. Come down where I can reach you. Take a knee or pull up a chair, and let’s do this thing. The A-frame hug – with you bending over at the waist and us both trying to figure out what to do with our faces and where to put our hands – is better than no hug at all, but it’s not satisfying to me, and probably not to you either. There’s nothing like a real unqualified all out hug and kiss and squeeze. The intensity and duration of the hug and or squeeze is variable consistent with the relationship of the participants and the occasion, and the kiss is always optional (I’ve got a big beard and I fully understand if you don’t want that in your face). But the hug and the squeeze is the whole point.
It’s the same for having a conversation of any consequence or duration. If you come down here, pull up a chair and get down to my level (in more ways than one), we can chat all night and neither of us will get a stiff neck. Doing it this way does require a bit more of a commitment from you – it’s harder to casually wander away when you’re sitting in a chair (trust me, I know). I promise you your commitment will be appreciated.
I’ve been down here, waist high in the world, for some time. The view is occasionally quite interesting – I’ve got a good excuse for looking at people’s butts – but as you can imagine it is usually not terribly inspiring. Of all the things I miss about being down here, apart from the whole “walking” thing, hugs are near the top of the list. Getting down on one knee doesn’t need to feel like you’re proposing to me (sorry guys and gals, he’s happily married!) (although, as my grandfather said, I’ll try anything once.) The whole idea of the arrangement is for less awkwardness.
But if this is getting too complicated, the classic fist bump is perfectly fine. Even better if you jazz it up with some fireworks.
Recommended reading: Waist High in the World, by Nancy Mairs.
Is there any quantitative difference between the Hindu mantra “tumi baja re,” and the more secular Town Fair Tire jingle? Both occupy space in my frontal lobe, and both come as easily to my consciousness. Is one “better” than the other for keeping my mind from wandering away from the present moment? I think not. Both serve the same purpose, meaning can be stripped from either, allowing them to run in loops thru my wandering mind as pure sound and rhythm. Perhaps there can be an entire new cannon of meditation mantras drawn from advertising jingles.
“A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has a curious ability to remind us – like rock and sunlight and wind in wilderness – that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments, we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.”
From “Desert Solitaire,” by Edward Abbey.
I had in mind a brilliant essay, inspired by Abbey’s passionate and eloquent meditations on solitude, the southwest desert in general, Arches National Park and the pre-dam Glen Canyon in particular, exploring where a man in a wheelchair fits into the natural world. But as so often happens between then and now, those words have wandered away. In lieu of my lost words, I’ll simply leave this passage and highly recommend the book from whence I borrowed it. Perhaps my words will reorganize themselves and find their way onto the page. You’ll be the first to know.