Siege Diaries 5/31/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: If my vocation is to be a good person, am I doing a good job?

I can always, always, always do better. What is my impact on society? My moral compass may point me in the right direction, but until I take the steps to follow it, it might as well be worthless. The compass star on a map shows you where north is, but it’s the routes themselves that take you where you need to go.

Being a good human being is an excellent vocation, but it needs to be more than that. I must walk the walk, not just the talk. And there is the daily challenge.

*****
The topic of hugging when the world starts to reopen has started to come up, and some interesting and surprising discussions have resulted.

Those who know me know I’m “not a hugger.” And yes, I’ll smile and say “It’s OK, you can hug me” when people tell me that, because I have been taught that refusing hugs is akin to kicking a kitten, and also because it clearly is important to certain friends. This has been often been presented to me as something I needed to get past, to be more relaxed and open. Non-huggers have been frequently portrayed, even by well-meaning friends, as less-than. We can’t “open up”. We’re aloof, or repressed, or negating “humanity’s innate desire for touch.” (Yes, I’ve been told all of these things).

And so, over many years, I’ve trained myself in the art of expected congratulatory hugs, the kind where if you don’t offer, the feeling is that you must have something against the other person, even when you barely know them. What I’m learning is that many of the people I’ve congratulated in that way have themselves been conditioned to accept hugs on these occasions because–again–expectations. “That’s just what people are going to do. They’re happy for you!” The implication is that only some kind of monster would turn away such love and well-wishes.

But for me, hugging is naturally an expression of absolute trust, of a certain kind of intimacy that I usually reserve for immediate family and very close friends–and then sparingly. There is one other time I’ll feel comfortable hugging, and that’s when a friend I know to be “a hugger” really needs one. I’ll put my discomfort aside at that point to do a kindness for a friend in need. That does not mean I’ll start hugging them every time I see them; more that I recognize something that’s important to them at a key juncture in their life (whether joyful or sad). I see it as attempting to speak a foreign language. I may indeed be willing to give you a hug because you need one. But I hope folks will learn my language, too, and we’ll start to better understand how to show love and affection in many different ways. And for me, that way is not physical touch, not unless you are a very small handful of people. For me, it’s words, thoughtful, well-chosen words, or other kinds of acts, such as inviting me in, or listening to me, or sending me a link to music or art you know I love. That is the way you give me the equivalent of a hug.

We are now going to have an additional layer added–one of safety and trust. The decision to hug or not to hug may no longer be taken to be an assumption that hugging is just fine. And so, there are suddenly discussions as to how to indicate this at gatherings. And I see people wanting to try to fit everyone into a one-size-fits-all model, with colour codes (and, in the example I saw, a connection with vaccination status, with the default assumption that if you’re fully vaccinated, you’ll of course want hugs.) I’ve been pleased to see that this default has been shot down. We are not all going to want to break out in a hug orgy. Friends I didn’t know were hug-adverse are emerging–and there are quite a lot us, and some of our hugging friends are confused and sad to find out that maybe we’ve been simply putting up with hugs rather than enjoying them. Inflexible colour codes might be OK in very specific situations, but I think we’re astute enough to talk to each other, or to figure out ways of expressing our preferences in other ways. Consent is so important, even when it’s an action that the giver sees as unequivocally positive.

*****
Gorgeous day today for a walk, and I definitely seized the opportunity.

Delivery for at least part of my Home Depot order is scheduled for Thursday; I suspect this is the cubic yard of river stone. The order status page is still indicating tomorrow for the rest of the stuff; we shall see.
I have a package to pick up at the postal outlet tomorrow with over $70 of fees to pay. I’m not sure which package this is, but I suspect it might be my American Duchess shoes purchased on clearance because I know one of the two other larger orders is coming via DHL and the other shipped from Russia just last week (and Russia usually takes at least three weeks to arrive). Given that I only paid about $100 CAD for the shoes, this would be a rather extreme amount.

I am not quite done with the Pallas’ cat, but the end is in sight, as I have finished up its big, floofy, striped tail.. Hopefully tomorrow evening.

I’ve also finished the first module in my Russian course (with eight parts). I do wish I could get it to generate a vocabulary list to print and study; I know this works from experience with other languages. I may need to figure out whether there’s something I can do to put that kind of thing together.

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