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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Failure to Thrive


As you can see in my profile picture, I have dreadlocks. The “why” is a discussion for another day. Today I want to talk about women and their hair. Not really...

When I was a child, my mother braided my hair every night before I went to bed in preparation for the next day of school. Very, very tightly! It was so tight that it would pull at the roots, and the skin, and my eyes. It felt as if she was trying to force the hair to grow, right there on the spot.

Saturday was a little different. On Saturday night, I had the luxury of having it pressed for church the next day. Often she would do this while we were seated in or in our tiny, warm kitchen. Frequently some of my aunts, my grandmother, or some other female family members would be sitting with us. They’d usually talk about “family stuff,” much of which I didn't understand until years later, the church, the news, or just about anything. 


With my current locks, I have a good friend that “helps” me with them. I have recently come to the conclusion that all of this "do"-ing is not really about the hair at all. It is about bonding.
During these “interaction,” we stand and sit in each other’s space, in each other’s presence, and in each other’s hearts. And, its not just standing close, we lean against each other in a way that we can at no other time.
And, the leaning is not just physical, its psychological and emotional. We are so close we can feel the heat from each other's breath. So close we can feel the body's tension or relaxation. We can feel the laughter, and the tears, even when we cannot see them, and certainly before they reach the surface. 

So what?
We live in tumultuous and fast times. Times when people are more attached to their smart phones and computers than they are to other people.
Bonding is an important part of our lives. There have been numerous studies about babies, especially premature babies, who fail to thrive (and sometimes fail to survive) for lack of human touch and interaction. I am not really certain that this need ever really goes away. We all need to be touched.
People need to be touched. I’m not saying that you need to go hug every person you meet, but you do need to be mindful of what may be going on in their little world. There are many lonely and un-touched people in our lives. People who are barely surviving, let alone actually thriving. We need to reach out and touch the lives of others. That’s what we are all here for.
Just a touch can make someone's day or lift their spirit. I'm not talking about a huge monetary gift. I am talking about an expression of some kind demonstrating that we are human, and that we notice them.  A simple smile, a thank you note, a humorous card, a cheap flower, a handshake, a pat on the back...a touch. 

Back to my Mom…that child, snuggled into and sometimes nearly suffocated by her ample bosom, in the heat of our tiny kitchen, knew she was loved, and thrived.

Look around you. There are people around you who need for anybody to do anything to let them know that they are not alone, and that they will thrive.


photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/illestwill/3543400436/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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