My daily practice is forcing me in many ways to catch up with people, which is an amazingly happy accident. Day 11 and 12 were both friends; one who I see very often and one I see now and again as she lives in London. Both have a comfort and a familiarity for me that is very special and it is great to have created an opportunity that allows me to appreciate that. I feel held in their presence. They are two of the many friends who have inspired me to engage in my 2012 task. Sitting in a bar holding their hands feels easy. I am aware of it. It feels playful and poignant. I can’t help but notice the differences from person to person. The quality of their hand holding somehow seems to reflect their personality.
Day 10 was with a friend whilst she ran some errands which it turns out is rather funny when you’ve got someone attached to you by the hand. Getting in and out of shop doors without seeming rude becomes an odd little choreography between the both of you. Negotiating where they want to go next without letting go, which is of course the sensible option. At one point I felt like I could have been being cared for the set up was so that I was being led. What I loved about it was the feeling of familiarity. Even though I was acutely aware of us holding hands there was no discomfort in this fact even when I noticed a few questioning looks from passersby. This confidence comes in many ways from the fact that I am very comfortable with this person as she is a friend of many years and I wonder if I would have felt differently had we not known each other for so long.
There always comes the moment when I let people know that they can let go. I am very much enjoying the varying responses to this; a squeeze, holding the moment for that bit longer, requesting a hug or a simple thank you have passed between myself and my partners so far. With each new hand comes a little difference and a trace of something new.
“The day, water, sun, moon, night – I do not have to purchase these with money” – Plautus
I would simply like to thank my friend for our 30 minute moonlight dance on day 9. An uninterrupted calm and gentle moment in the middle of the city.
My attempt to capture the moon
Day 7 took me to new ground when I decided to perform my daily practice whilst at work. I ran 2 workshops with teenagers and in the first I offered my daily practice as my news for 2012. They asked questions but were fairly accepting of the challenge so much so that 2 of the boys decided to hold each others hand for 30 minutes. My 2nd workshop participants were more questioning. I had asked my colleague to hold my hand for 30 mins of the 3 hour class. I of course offered context to my students as to what we were doing. They responded with some amount of disbelief and of course asked ‘Yeah, but why? Why holding hands?’ I told them much of what I have written on this blog and that seemed to satisfy them.
The brief discussion led to one of my favourite questions and realisations so far. I was asked – ‘How many hours will you spend holding hands with people this year?’ I hadn’t even considered quantifying the time. A quick sum lets you know that it will be 183 hours. It was really exciting and quite amusing to have to justify myself to my teenage students their level of enquiry has a rather abrupt quality but allowed me a moment to own the action.
Holding hands at work
Day 8 by contrast was back to a more private shared moment with a friend who asked me to go otter spotting with her in a walk along the White Cart River in Pollok park.
The walk begins
It was a great start to my Sunday. I was a little worse for wear having partaken in a little too much gin the night before, however the walk offered much needed fresh air and the chance to catch up and talk about touch and the need for it. My friend happens to be studying a movement course that looks particularly at the well being of the body. This raised a lot of questions about the importance of touch and the quality of touch you receive. As I’ve said before holding hands is often though of as a romantic action and rightly so but I suppose it leads me to question what you do when you are perhaps looking for a comforting touch and for whatever reason it’s not readily available to you. Touch has become sexualised in our culture and I feel that for many we have lost sight of the importance of being tactile with each other as part of our well being. It made me a little sad to think that such scrutiny has meant that we can be constantly judged on how we are tactile with each other and that it can be made to feel unwelcome or wrong in some way.
I’ve definitely started to grow a little in confidence with my daily practice. I’m looking forward to the week ahead and the time with my fellow hand holders.
The busy nature of the culture we live in means we are not often required to calm the mind but more ramp it up to its fastest and loudest setting. This meant I was excited by day 6 but also apprehensive in a different way to my previous hand holding as now I had an additional task. I feel very privileged that people have taken the time to consider how they would like to hold hands for with me. When i started thinking about doing this I was keen that it I didn’t have to impact on people’s days. That we could do it whilst they went about their daily business but so far it has been a moment to stop and spend time.
During the meditation the holding of hands became like an anchor a place to ground ourselves to help our brains become calmer and quieter. Interestingly I felt that the time past very quickly despite the silence of meditation.
I started off day 5 with no real concrete plan of where and when I might hold hands. I had a possible who but nothing was definite. When it became apparent that my who couldn’t make it I begun to realise how I might feel when I start to ask strangers to join me. On my walk down Sauchiehall street I was approached by one of the many charity sales folk and had a momentary contemplation to ask him to hold my hand in exchange for my custom. I didn’t. as soon as the thought entered my head I was upset at myself for thinking of it as a transaction. It has helped me to consider that there is no need to panic at the prospect of having no one to hold hands with. Opportunity will more often than not raise its head and it’s about knowing when to be brave and follow that opportunity. As it turns out I was able to ask a friend who is staying with us temporarily which felt like a more genuine and welcomed offer. And so over a cup of tea and finding much comedy in an obscure magazine that sells items like ‘in-between pavement cleaners’ I held hands in this unplanned moment.
Over the few days i have come to really enjoy the felling that is left behind. the heat and the way the skin of my palm feels like it is somehow softer. It’s quite comforting. Like a little trace is left behind for a while after the event.
Today was a stroll around Queens Park on the south side of Glasgow. It was a great start to the day, a little battered by the elements but warmed by a feeling of friendship and connectedness. This feeling has permeated through the rest of my day as conversions on hand holding have continued with other people, some in rather unexpected ways.
I talked at length with a friend about the discomfort the idea of hand holding might conjure in others. It is certainly true that I am creating situations in which to hold peoples hands which are outside of my cultures norms. I have noticed in the few days I have been doing this that for the first few minutes of holding hands it can feel awkward as we try to relax and settle into the shared action. This said I have been inspired and excited by the responses I have received so far from those wishing to take part. Many have really run with their own creativity in devising plans or situations in which we might hold hands and it has even led me to re-connect with old friends.