So, this morning I went for a massage. A back and facial massage, with lava shells. It was my first time. I was a bit nervous. I did need to relieve some built-up tension, but would the massage work? Would I even enjoy it? Or would I enjoy it a bit too much, like Monica from Friends?
I also wasn’t expecting to feel so uncomfortable about taking my top off. Of course they were going to ask me to do that. Of course I would have to take off my bra. The masseuse politely left the room whilst I did this, and gave me time to cover myself under the towel, to get into a comfortable position on the bed. I tried to relax.
I was slightly uneasy at first. But soon, I was in heaven. The shells were hot, and glided smoothly over my oiled skin. Soft, calming music played in the background. I closed my eyes. Felt the silken shells, and the hands pressing into my skin, moving swiftly, adeptly releasing the tension held beneath them.
And I found myself thinking: I’m so grateful to be able to feel this, grateful for the sensation of touch.
How often do we take this sense for granted? One of our five senses, and do we really stop to appreciate it? I hadn’t really felt such strong gratitude for touch until today, when this sense was heightened, when I could really feel the benefits for my physical and emotional wellbeing.
There have been other moments, though. Small moments where touch has helped me. I’m thinking of a particular moment which happened a few months ago. I was meeting a group of friends I hadn’t seen for a long time, and again, I was nervous. Before I got there I was running late and when I arrived I wasn’t relaxed, I was self-conscious but really wanted to let go of the nerves and enjoy being with my friends. We were meeting at a restaurant, and, as we gathered around the table before sitting down, one of my dearest friends, without looking at me, without saying a word, took my hand in hers and squeezed it.
It was a small gesture. A moment she might not even remember. But to me it was important. It was comforting. It showed me her support. It affirmed the friendship. Friendship which lasts despite the passing of time, despite the distance. It made me relax, forget my inhibitions, so that I could enjoy the afternoon.
Touch is so powerful. It is a key part of human nature. Touch conveys emotions to other people, and/or between other people. Touch is a significant way in which children learn about the world around them. That’s why toddlers want to reach out and grab everything in sight. Touch is also a huge part of the modern world. The popularity of touchscreens just goes to show the power touch has for humanity, for human communication.
Believe it or not, the simple act of touch can go as far as to save lives. People who are depressed, people who are lonely, people who are in distress… sometimes all it takes to make someone feel loved, appreciated or supported is a small gesture of touch. No words. Just the squeeze of an arm, the holding of a hand, a hug. Sure, it doesn’t solve all the problems. But as my personal examples have shown, touch has the power to lift spirits, to change a mood, to communicate things which words cannot express.