At 26% battery I attempted to update four different applications on my iPhone at the same time. By the time I reached 14% I realized the folly of my ways and with an unreasonable amount of panic I canceled two updates in order to see any finish updating before my phone went completely dead.
With anticipation I watched the semi-circle, ends reaching towards each other getting closer, and the longer I watched the more the edges seemed to flutter. As if the two ends were making frantic attempts to connect, hold hands. Meanwhile the battery percentage ticked down 10%, 4%, 2% and finally at 1% the update completed. The circle was full, much to my surprise. I never expect things to work when it’s down to the wire.
I had watched the last few seconds countdown because I wanted to see the light leave my phone’s eyes if it was going to die. Yes, I had totally personified this phone and its struggle to be complete. I also was in a delirium that follows an afternoon nap.
But there remains that thought in the back of my mind as a human that I can be more complete and multifaceted, and holding hands helps. From a survival aspect holding hands doesn’t seem logical. The opposable thumbs that give people so many advantages, climbing and gripping are fully neutralized by hand holding. Walking and running are both more difficult while holding hands.
But it connects us and comforts us, and not just humans, other mammals as well. Look at elephants holding trunks, monkeys gripping eachother’s tails and puppies nuzzling closer into the dogpile to feel that contact.
Social creatures have similar habits, but human social contract dictates a certain distance be observed for acquaintances and friends. The rest comes down to fear of rejection and personal embarrassment. When really, there is no reason not to hold hands. Unless there is a sweaty palm situation.
Some of my younger students reflexively reach out to hold my hand or to lean against me, and every time I am surprised by the maternal instincts that make me instantly want to protect that little person. All from these small, unconscious actions that make me feel close not just in body but also mind. It is an acknowledgement of something tribal, a connection recognized that all parties will try to protect each other.
Some infants spend the majority of their young lives attached to their mother’s back, or in close proximity of people who love and reach out to touch consistently if not constantly. As people grow older and develop independence the need for physical touch is still present, but open affection is no longer socially acceptable as it was with dependent toddlers drooling all over themselves.
We still want hugs. We still want to hold hands, link arms, fist bump, shake hands and grab shoulders. It reduces blood pressure at a micro level, and at the macro level it reassures all of us in our everyday moments of insecurity. It reminds us we aren’t alone, but part of an ever updating circle.