Merely to be Held….

I sit down on the floor of a school for the retarded, writer of magazine articles accompanying a band.  I was met at the door by a child in a man’s body who asked, “Are you the surprise they promised us?”

It’s Ryan’s Fancy, Dermot on guitar. Gus on banjo, Dennis on penny-whistle.  In the eyes of this audience, they’re everybody that has ever appeared on TV.

I’ve been telling lies to a boy who cried because his favorite detective didn’t come with us. I said he had sent his love. I didn’t think he’d mind I signed his name to a scrap of paper.  The boy took it, he said, “Nobody will ever get this away from me! …

A young woman (I call her a woman because she’s twenty-five at least, but I think of her as little girl) sits down beside me as if it were the most natural thing in the world, she rests her head on my shoulder. I’m uncomfortable in situations where I’m ignorant of the accepted etiquette.  I  look around me for a teacher to spell out my distress.  All are busy elsewhere.

“Hold me,” she whispers. “Hold me.”
I put my arm around her. “Hold me tighter.” I do, and she snuggles closer. I half-expect someone in authority to grab her or me; I can imagine this being remembered forever as the time the sex-crazed writer publicly fondled the poor retarded girl.

“Hold me.” she says again. What does it matter what anybody thinks? I put my other arm around her, rest my chin in her hair, thinking of children, real children, and of how they say it. “Hold me,” and of a patient in a geriatric ward I once heard crying out to his mother, dead for half a century, “I’m frightened,  Hold me!” and of a boy-soldier  screaming it on the beach at Dieppe, of Nelson in Hardy’s arms, of Frieda gripping Lawrence’s ankle until he sailed off in his Ship of Death.

It’s what we all want in the end, To be held, merely to be held. To be kissed (not necessarily with the lips, for every touching is a kind of kiss).

Yes, it’s what we all  want in the end, not to be worshiped, not to be admired, not to be famous, not to be feared, not even to be loved, but simply to be held.

She hugs me now, this retarded woman, and I hug her. We are brother and sister, father and daughter. mother and son husband and wife. We are lovers. We are two human beings huddled together for a little while by the fire in the Ice Age, two hundred thousand years ago.  
— Alden Nowlan




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Posted by | Paul Reynolds
Paul has been a yoga teacher on the Island of Kauai for many years and is the facilitator of the weekly Living the Question Blog - a repository of wisdom and inspiration. Paul also produces and hosts Le Guru is You Radio Show, showcasing everyday gurus.

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