Hugging on to dear love


The whole human realm of existence is guided by the practice of certain behaviors that while may not be innate in their nature, have since evolved to find such extensive incorporation into the ambits of what govern lifestyles today that they manifest as a cultural form of expression, as a way of life deeply ingrained much like an essential trait we cannot do without. This, despite the fact that such common mode of behavior might not be truly universal in their recognition, still resting in such an elevated, essential place of importance that sees them as ingrained in the collective human awareness, even when it remains restricted to certain sections of the world population. The accepted context of the significance or otherwise of such behaviors might also be disputed at times, interpreted differently in different cultures and thus adhered to diversely by various communities, but still being assigned a role of essence that makes them more or less a continually encountered activity throughout the whole of mankind.

Emerging as such a readily common encounter almost empirical in its relevance even when dwelling across the fore of different cultures in differing intensities but still catering to certain primal human needs as warmth and comfort and belonginess and coming to the fore thereof as almost an indispensable medium through which life seeks sustenance in fulfilment is the very innocuous embrace of a hearty hug. Today an almost subconscious form of expression, of greeting that therefore is not always something practiced in some profound derivative expected out of it, a hug is a fairly common occurrence throughout. As a form of greeting, it is one very friendly, happy way of expression. As a gesture of comfort, a hug can be deeply gratifying in its realisation and very enriching in experience. As however a mode of behavior catering more to the instinctive human craving for touch, a hug can encompass a more diverse, nuanced play of emotions that offers in its embrace the most sought after feels of love, conviviality, belonginess and warmth. Needless to say then, hugs are often one of the defining elements of every relationship, be it one based purely on the romances of affection or those that embody any of the many different types of love palpable to the heart.

It perhaps would be wrong to attribute hugging as a form of acquired behavior, one learned from the other presences of the world for the longing for a warm embrace itself stems innately and inexplicably, regardless of whether we know or don’t what a hug really does. In all its ambiguity therefore, that relates more to the unclear mannerism in which it came to be an essential embodiment of some basic human desires, the origin of hugging and hugs is also as much rooted in the obscurity of its premises. The nomenclature of it however affords a more reliable and clearer elucidation. Like most things that dwell in the convivial aura afforded by the Nordic way of life, hugs too are resplendent in the warmth of being resident in a Scandinavian etymology. The word is supposedly derived from the Old Norse word hugga which itself means to comfort and has been in existence since at least the 1560s when it was first used. An alternative allusion however is the German word hegen that means to foster or cherish but despite the dualities in name, the assertion of a hug has remained the same across a multitude of human existences.

In its essence as a very effective mode of non verbal communication that satisfies still the human craving for touch, hugs might be interpreted alongside a range of other such human behaviors that satiate the need of skin hunger. But in its most common association with another mode of essential inclinations rooted in the mavericks of the physical touch, hugs are more likely to be understood in close relation to kisses. In fact, the phrase ‘hugs and kisses’ is today a recurring phenomenon in the 21st century cultural assertion among earthlings, that might make hugs ‘feel’ akin to being a mostly sexual behavior, much like kisses even when both are not always exclusively romantic in nature. Love however runs deep as the emotion ‘arousing’ both these modules of essentially physical behavior, though in such manifestations that can widely differ as concerns perception and prevalence. Despite the close link, hugs are typically seen as far more acceptable a public display of affection, romantic or otherwise, than kisses and therefore are less subject to the stigma of judging and causing furore. And it is in this ‘liberty’ allowed to the large hearted appeal of a heartfelt hug that makes it so indulged in as a popular mode of expression of emotions and feelings that has helped it emerge as more assertive a component of almost innate human behavior.

And while hugging has been forever practised so often and so passionately as a touchy- feely mode of communication among humans, it is quite surprising that hugs can be almost as effective even when the connection is pursued with some inanimate being. Especially with children who seem to harbour as intimate a certain connect with their toys, the act of hugging often involves such objects, especially stuffed toys or soft, fluffy dolls and most commonly teddy bears within whom they seek to decipher their own world of comfort. Adults even sometimes conform to this behavior of engaging with things over beings in the form of hugs, most often resorting to find comfort across the expanse of their pillows or even stuffed toys like bears and the like. This universal and continuing mode of deliverance through which hugs work out draws attention to another significant aspect of its essence- rested in a notion that equates comfort with the warmth imbued in a soft physicality, not always strictly sexual, nor the other way round.

However, this version of the hug effectively worked out with things rather than beings is devoid of the range of benefits that accrues out of the essential physical and human connect forged through hugs. Much like any other gesture of touch, a hug also relieves a whole lot of complex human uneasiness, ranging from the low feels to anxiety by uplifting moods and triggering happiness as well as spelling similar such wonders on the physiological health. In building trust and fostering a sense of belonginess and of comfort, in bolstering emotional and cognitive capacities, in alleviating issues like high blood pressure and erratic heart rate while potentially keeping stress and worries at a minimum, hugs do to you such wonders that are also attributable to their almost complementary expanse of the kiss, and more so to the vagaries of benefits that merely being in love can endow.

One particular expression of human emotions that hugs encompass in an intensity almost unfathomable by any other range of similar human activity is the solace of compassion. While kisses might be an expression of love, hugs are an assertion of something much profound- that of the assurance of being there for someone in their hard times, of lending them a pair of arms to lose themselves in, of offering a shoulder of support, of supporting them through their vulnerability. Hugs hold you up, the mere act of that embrace shrouds you in an assurance of security and lend you a solidarity that is more than enough to sustain you through the pains of life. Within that singular embrace, a hug can deliver a myriad of promises- of friends sticking to each other, of acquaintances delighting in the company of another, of parents being there for their children, of children bringing reason to the lives of their parents, of lovers loving each other for life, and so much and so more.

In its universe of the good feels and the compassionate existence that it has helped sustain for the human race, it is therefore quite delightful a evolution that the hug has undergone over the years. Even in the modern quite times of the 19th century, a hug was intensely personal, to the extent that it ceased to be a spontaneous act even in reciprocity. The 21st century embracing of the hug is much more dynamic though, personal still but in a manner and to an extent that entails both the hugger and the huggee of its benefits. Indeed, even in its growing universality and acceptance, a hug still needs certain caution to be exercised upon its range, ensuring that personal space is not encroached upon in delivering what is otherwise a well intentioned gesture in humanity itself. And while the dawn of the coronavirus times of reeling in social distancing etiquette might prove too much for the hearty hug to bear, the human race will still continue to chart the route of this now ingrained behavior that can manifest also in a range of different kinds and forms of expression. That is to say, there is a hug for every type of emotion you feel, for every kind of relation you cherish and for every sort of situation that you might find yourself in. Be it the safe play with the side hug, the reasonably flamboyant reassurance of the bear hug, the intimate explorations of the back hug, the platonic but pretty intense emotions still imbibed within the friend hug, the language of hugs lets you speak a thousand words and express a thousand emotions without you even having to utter a thing. That’s just how very evocative every deliverance of the hug is, embracing a universe of heartfelt sentiments by itself, in such tight, deeply cherished expression of all the love you ever could feel that leaves you only craving to be even more entwined in its blissful grace.