I have been in Berlin for just over a week now and have met and hugged about 50 new people who are an integral part of my son’s life here! I made up my mind while on the flight over from Australia, that when meeting the people that are in BerlinBoy’s life, I was not going to shake hands with them on meeting but rather, I was going to hug each and every one of them! I had a couple of reasons for this – the first one being purely selfish, in that I just don’t get enough hugs in my life and this was a way of righting the balance! The next reason was that I wanted to let them know, exactly how much I appreciated them and their relationship with my son. By hugging them, I was able to share the warmth and closeness I felt towards them. Another reason was that, when you hug someone, you are close enough to whisper a special message near their ear …. a message just for them alone to hear. It was a private way of sharing secret words in public!
The response to my international hugging campaign has been extremely interesting. I probably should mention here, that many of the people I have met are handsome, young men between the ages of 25 and 40. They are members of the football team my son plays in and coaches and they represent 14 different countries. It’s been a really tough job …. but I made a commitment to myself and so I need to see it through!!! I should also mention that I did draw the line at hugging the very formal German doctors at the hospital but I feel sure that by the end of my stay – I will be able to hug them “thank you and goodbye!!” One doctor has already softened and now always gives my shoulder a very gentle squeeze and my back a short rub as he sees us out of his office.
Back to the responses to my hugs …. it was varied initially, with some of the older German guys offering me their hand to shake when meeting for the first time. However, once I explain that a handshake cannot convey the message of gratitude and connection I feel towards them, they are ready for my hug and return it with gusto! One of the guys even apologised for his “Germaness and said that he had been taught to shake hands as a sign of respect when meeting someone for the first time.” I thanked him for the respect shown and went on to explain that I felt we had certainly met before through his friendship with my son and I was happy to shake hands but I needed to hug him as well! He gratefully accepted and as we parted, we both knew that a bond had been formed.
All of the other German friends have been happy to hug it out with me and of course the Latin American, Spanish, Italian, Maltese and French I have met, have participated enthusiastically, often adding the kiss on both cheeks! Nothing to see here, Folks! Absolutely no complaints either. The point is that not one person, be they male or female; English, American, Asian or European; young or slightly older; single or attached; black, white, brown, pink or green – has pulled away or acted awkwardly or embarrassed towards me!
I have no delusions of power, seduction or manipulation here. The only thing this group and I have in common in this faraway continent – is my son! It is our mutual love, care and connection to and of him, that enables me to breakdown the wall (I hope you see what I did there? Berlin …. Wall!!) of differences. Differences of language and culture and custom and age and religion, to create a formidable connection. A connection that doesn’t need words but only needs hugs to show understanding and share compassion and care for one another.
In this time of worldwide hate and fear and suspicion, travelling has again come to the fore with an important lesson or at least a reminder that listening to each other’s point of view and acknowledging our differences, need not stop us from showing care and compassion towards each other. It is good to know that when we can’t express in words the things we wish to get across, a hug might just be the answer.
When meeting up with these new friends a second, third and sometimes fourth time, I am very happy to report that I have been gathered up into wide open arms and hearts and huge smiles. Many times, before I am ready for them! I have been hugged in groups and hugged from behind and even lifted up off the ground in a hug! I feel so blessed to have added approximately 50 new sons and daughters to my family and I am only praying that all these travellers of the world, do not arrive in Australia, to stay in my spare room at the same time!