When Growth Stops

I’m 5’11.5″. I tell people that I am six feet tall. Growing up, I always wanted to get to 6′. For whatever reason, it was some benchmark that became a goal–one that I had basically no control over. I never drank coffee when I was young–so I guess I can at least say that I didn’t stunt my growth at all. But there came a point when I had to accept that I wasn’t going to grow anymore. I wasn’t going to get to that 6 foot mark. And I never would.

I’ve been practicing yoga for about a year now. It is a spiritual practice as much if not more than it is a physical one (if such divisions must be made). Among its numerous benefits, yoga helps you to become more flexible. Many people think that yoga is just about stretching, or primarily just an act of stretching. This is not true. But stretching is certainly a significant¬†part of it.

One of the ways that you become more flexible is not just by stretching, but by pushing your stretch beyond the edge. The way you do this is to take your stretch to the edge and breath deeply into it. Then, as you inhale, you come back out of the stretch just a little bit, and as you exhale you push forward just beyond where you were before.  Continue reading

The Handshake, The Hug, The Kiss

What meaning does physical touch have for us? After enjoying coffee with a friend the other morning, we found ourselves at our cars, parked right next to each other, ready to bring our time together to a close. This girl seems particularly keen on the half-open ‘side-hug’. Personally, I am not very accustomed to this side-hug, though I have experienced it most commonly, I suppose, with the wives of some of my married friends. Still, as I was driving away, I began thinking about the layers and hierarchies of different kinds of physical touch that we use in our culture to communicate various things to one another.

I thought of my time living for six months in Hungary a few years ago. There, as with many other European cultures, one greets and bids farewell to one another with two, or sometimes three, kisses on the cheeks, alternating with each kiss. This is the common and cultural greeting for first-time introductions, greeting one’s mother, father, siblings, close friends, or strangers that you are being introduced to. Sex, or gender, is here irrelevant. Occasionally, the handshake would be used between myself and an older professor, for example, with whom there was not much familiarity, a relationship connection we did not intend to see again. But the cheek kisses were almost entirely consistent and present. One had not said “hello” or “goodbye” without this.

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