Life has issued to me some deep challenges in the last few days, in the way of loss. Although I am not a person that typically senses that life accumulates troubles, or that bad things “happen in threes”, I felt a bit overwhelmed and taxed by events recently. And, although how things impact me is always within my own choice and control, I felt spent. I felt like I had enough.
In the span of four days, my beloved Hug Bug 1998 VW Beetle broke down 700 miles from my home; my wife’s sister died unexpectedly; and our cars were broken into and my work computer was stolen from my car. By Thursday, I felt tired, discouraged, and like I wanted to hide away in my home, under a blanket, and forget about everyone and everything. I had enough.
However, I am so grateful to have within me the gift of sight, the gift of awareness. I express gratitude for awareness daily, because without it, I see myself as a person in pain with no way to relieve it. With awareness, I can accept that I am in pain as it is, and love myself in spite of that. In addition, I can see another option to relieve the pain, or to accept things as they are. I have learned deeply about surrender, acceptance, and presence.
This weekend, here in Scranton, is The Scranton Fringe Festival. I participated last year, talking about The Hugging Army, and this year was to have two shows again to tell stories, share photographs, and instruct people on mindful hugging. As my first show approached, my level of enthusiasm was diminished, because I was focused on the loss and sadness that I felt. However, once again, awareness assisted me in seeing things another way.
You see, when I first began offering free hugs in my community, I saw it as just that: an offering to others. A giving to them what I believed that they needed or desired. After hugging strangers for two years, however, I deeply understood that I was also receiving something in return, with every hug that I received, and even with those that I didn’t. I was gifted ten fold. A part of me wanted to feel selfish for wanting to receive that gift. Yet, being honest about that, and also understanding that the mutuality of the hug itself has deep healing powers, I saw the opportunity in sharing it with others. I get every hug that I offer to people. Plain and simple.
And, I offered and received many hugs so far this weekend. And, in those hugs, I cried, I breathed deeply, and was present to what I was giving and what I was receiving, right into my heart center. I felt what hurt so intensely was healing, slowly and methodically, through the exchange of deep love, presence and respect. I understood, yet again, the importance of what hugs do in the world, for myself and for others.
I am not always sure why this became my path. Yet I know more and more each day why I will continue upon it. Why hugs are so important. And why my modeling of that opens me, and others, to a new way of being.