We embrace again. But how?

Publish date 22-10-2021

by Gian Mario Ricciardi


Yes, maybe we will come back, very slowly, to hug each other. But how? In what state of mind? What fears?
The Covid-19 that he killed mercilessly left us unsolicited legacies. They are a lot. They are physical because those who have had it and stopped it carry the dross of this cursed one inside: there are those who find it hard to fully regain their breath; those who struggle to walk; those who have sudden and difficult to control sensations of fear; some a sense of fatigue that is sometimes sudden and rampant; who has many other alleged pathologies. But these are the physical effects and the others?

A year or more of "distancing" has actually turned everything upside down. We were far away before, wrapped up and curled up in our selfishness; we were already suspicious before; we were wary, sometimes (indeed often) bad. And now?
Now much more. All our gestures have been damaged: no sign of peace at mass; no handshakes and that incredible elbow tapping; the hand raised or placed on the heart. They are all "signs" of a change of pace that has taken place even if we want to deny it. Here's how Covid-19 has changed us inside.
Now, when we get closer, there is always someone who looks at us with those merciful eyes as if to say "but it is unseemly and dangerous".

Even in Italy, the country where we hugged each other at the first meeting, where we printed a double kiss on the cheek even for strangers, where we chatted by touching each other, things have changed. I see people jump out of the way for a pat on the back or an innocent caress on the forearm.
It is so and it is not very nice. This is a profound cultural change, much more than you think. Cudding, the cuddling with which all animals (from orangutans to chimpanzees) manage their emotions, we have not had it since March 2020.
Yet there is only the "rhetoric of the embrace" left in a world that no longer believes in anything.

Consumed, and denied, all the words, it seems to us that there is nothing left but the embrace to draw and communicate a truth of feelings otherwise elusive or suspect. When we don't know what to say ("words aren't needed": that's how we put it), we think a hug is the only way out. In fact, what is more concrete, carnal, strong and indisputable than a hug?

What more than a hug can satisfy our desire for proximity, contact, warmth? What exorcises loneliness, that is, ultimately, death, more than an embrace? If we are so bad these days, it is also because the virus has taken away, or at least has polluted us with suspicion, even the hugs. We will still have to wait a long time, out of prudence, out of responsibility, out of safety. The only hope is that the damn virus hasn't stolen the warmth of a handshake forever. It seems that a hug also has a great therapeutic function on the body and mind, to calm our fears and free us from anxieties, but that time is still far, far away because the virus has stolen a piece of our heart.

Gian Mario Ricciardi
NP June / July 2021

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