A hug. A kiss. Holding hands. An arm around the hips or the shoulders. Cuddling in bed. Having sex. Sitting on their significant other’s lap. Running a hand through the partner’s hair. Massaging the back of their neck, massaging their feet, their back. Shaking hands, Hi-5ing, etc.

The list is longer than the Great Wall of China. The physical contact gestures are endless. I mentioned the most common ones. They are mighty important. They are essential. I will say crucial. They are as precious as oxygen, food, water, warmth and rest. The latter are part of the physiological needs that were theorized in the Maslow’s hierarchy. Maslow was talking about the things we cannot live without. According to me, human physical contact is a physiological need and it should be in that list but I am no scientist and I have no data to prove my theory yet, I believe it as strongly as I believe that gravity works 100% of the time!

I talk often about human connection. I do so purposefully and for one simple reason: I know the power of human connection through physical contact. As human beings, we want, need, long for that connection. Physical contact is the first thing we experience when we are born. Our parents hold us as soon as we exit our mother’s womb. Hell! Parents try to touch us through the belly when mom is pregnant. WE ABSOLUTELY, UNDENIABLY, UNEQUIVOCALLY NEED PHYSICAL CONTACT.

In 2019, when the world is more connected than ever, when devices are in our hands 24/7, when we have screens in front of our eyes at work, at home, on the commute, at the gym, in bed, the Gods only know physical contact is more important than ever. We are slipping away from each other, not intentionally but those damn devices are depriving us of human emotions, human contact and that increases people’s anxiety and sense of being alienated. We are still learning how to deal with this hyper-connectivity so I will not hold it against anyone. Yet, being with people is way more important than followers, likes, retweets, buzzwords and the virtual world.

No software, hardware, A.I will replace a parent’s kiss and hug, a child’s hug, a partner’s hand in our own. Computer engineers and physicists can work on the next virtual reality, but it will never replace a genuine hug from a friend you have not seen in years. No dream induced sequence will replace that feeling of being one with someone during sex. Should I go on? It isn’t necessary I am sure.

I am the biggest defender and proponent of physical contact. If a person is comfortable enough around me, I will kiss them and hug them every chance I get. I don’t care who you are, man or woman, I will kiss you and hug you affectionately. That is how I see life. That is how I choose to live my life, by showing affection to anyone I care about, period. I like simple things. A hug is basic and simple.

Weirdly enough, my mixed-race background isn’t necessarily supposed to make me this proponent of physical contact. The two cultures inhabiting my body, mind, soul and heart are quite opposite when it comes to physical contact. It is safe to say Greeks have a lot more than average physical contact and Burundians have way below average physical contact. Greeks hug, kiss, hold hands and are affectionate in public and in private. Burundians are the opposite of that, I would say. You can call it shyness, being reserved and modest, not being demonstrative, etc. So, technically, there should have been some subtle conflict regarding physical contact within me.

Yet, I was particularly lucky, and my parents were on the same wavelength when it comes to physical contact. They both kiss and hug abundantly. I know. A black Burundian father kissing his kids, hugging them and telling them “I love you” is quite rare. My mom is loving and caring like a 2-week old puppy and hugs everyone so, she is even more affectionate with her two sons. As fate would have it, I was blessed to inherit the trait both my parents proudly carry. My life has been about physical contact since I am a kid and I couldn’t conceive living my life any other way.

Studies have shown that cancer patients recover better when they are holding hands while getting chemotherapy. Newborns are immediately put in their parents’ arms to start the connection process and to get accustomed to life. A long and tiring day can suddenly become better once we hug a loved one. A child can be reassured with a hug or a kiss. You can relieve your partner’s stress by simply touching and kissing their brow. Physical contact releases Oxytocin. It is a hormone that plays a role in social bonding, childbirth, sexual reproduction and so on. The physical contact soothes the soul. The physical helps the psychological. The body connects with the soul and the heart. Those are facts.

To the parents, please touch, kiss and hug your children. My Burundian people are breaking the cycle and I am very proud of them. I know some of them were never touchy or close with their parents, but I have witnessed them breaking the cycle of distance and getting closer to their kids. I see hugs and kisses and kind words. I see more physical contact and it pleases me greatly.

To anyone who isn’t a parent yet, do the same with your family and friends. There is nothing in this world like being connected with another human being that you care about through touch. There is no greater gift.

To people in love and in a relationship…Touch your partner, be physical with them. Your relationship and bond will become stronger, I promise you. Do not be shy. Show you care and touch your partner. They will love you for it and you will feel better.

I respect the power of physical contact. I don’t fear it. I never have and never will. I embrace physical contact because I know its benefits. I have seen people’s pain and sorrow go away or exponentially decrease because of a hug or a kiss. I have witnessed people break down and cry while they are held by a loved one. I have seen their pain evaporate. Surely, physical contact doesn’t fix all the problems, but it does its part in making the world a better place and it does turn people into better human beings.

Embrace physical contact. Hug people. Kiss people. Hold hands. Have sex. Put your head on someone’s shoulder. Offer comfort to someone through a hug. Be kind and patient with others. Put your arm around their shoulders when they have had a rough day or just because you want to. Physical contact is never wasted. Physical contact can heal and help others.

The biggest thank you to my mom and dad for hugging me, holding me, kissing me and holding my hand from the moment I was born until this very moment. No matter how old I get, I am still their son and they treat me as such. They have instilled in me a great value, one that has no expiration date nor a downside, quite frankly. I will always live according to the rules they have taught me: physical contact is crucial in life. Physical contact helps the soul and the body.

Just one man’s opinion.

Now smile and go on with your day.

Freeman. B

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