“Trouble makes us one with every human being in the world – and unless we touch others, we’re out of touch with life.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Being in touch with people (real people, in real life) is not a necessary part of daily life for many adults today. With the gift of the internet, we are able to have meetings via a camera and computer, communicate through text messages and email, and work from home in pajamas — our business contacts none the wiser. Amazon and UberEats are able to deliver household items and food to our front doors, and with the exception of a party or church service, many of us find no reason to leave home. In fact, having to get dressed and go to a meeting or an event seems like a lot of trouble. Seems to me that trouble is just what we need. We need to go through the trouble of getting dressed, venturing out, talking to shop owners, and meeting friends for coffee or a walk in the park. We are missing out on the simple gift of being in touch with people in person because it seems too much trouble. Holmes was right — if we aren’t willing to touch others, we are out of touch with life.
Sometimes, we find people who might be older or more difficult or both — much like antiques we find that need some extra love to bring back their beauty. If you are one of those who thinks difficult people are too much trouble, you might also think antiques are just someone else’s junk, not worth the trouble it would be to repair for your own use.
I’m going to challenge you to change your thinking about trouble — that goes for furniture and people because if we look a little more closely, we might discover that what we think is trouble is really something beautiful and valued.
In my search for ways to explain what I’m trying to convey about trouble, I discovered ‘patina’ and came across an article about Michael Flanigan from the Antiques Roadshow:
“Patina is everything that happens to an object over the course of time,” Michael says. “The nick in the leg of a table, a scratch on a table top, the loss of moisture in the paint, the crackling of a finish or a glaze in ceramics, the gentle wear patterns on the edge of a plate. All these things add up to create a softer look, subtle color changes, a character. Patina is built from all the effects, natural and man-made, that create a true antique.”
What some view as trouble is actually patina — a valuable development over time, and it seems happens to humans as it does to furniture. We get some nicks and scratches, we lose moisture in our paint (skin), and we are seen as too much trouble. People with patina should be valued the way beautiful antiques are, and touching their lives will enrich our own.
When you are a young mother with children asking to be held all the time, the thought of not being touched for an hour is difficult to imagine. But as children move away, spouses die, and activities become limited, opportunities for a simple hug or squeeze of a shoulder are rare and missed by people lovely in their patina. Human touch has been shown to be powerful and healing. It is a gift we can give to others and to ourselves.
Reaching out to other people is a gift that can be delivered without wrapping or bows. Touching lives means going through a little trouble to get dressed, leave our homes, and reach out to people who have nicks in their legs and wear on their edges. Truly, if we lose our ability to touch the lives of other people, we will lose our connection with the world.