Hueman adaptation and the power of touch

Is it time to have the conversation about adaptation, our quintessential nature? Huemans of every color and persuasion have become increasingly connected, resulting in a dawning awareness of our inescapable togetherness. Frightening, apparently to many. Re-cognizing our shared humanity will move us through this dark cloud of fear, the deep and abiding lack of trust in ourselves and each other. It is more than a journey of faith, it is the embrace of our wholeness. It is the way forward.

In the meantime, we have created a nightmare we can’t seem to wake up from. Swinging between self-loathing and hatred of whoever’s handy, our endless wars will keep the savvy interplanetary traveler at bay, until we admit we’re all in this together and stop fighting. Those who think they exist above the rabble are still a part of us, there truly is no escape. As human beings, we have always relied on our adaptability for survival.  Adapt and evolve or decline and die. That’s our choice and it affects the entire world.

We have been trained to hate each other.  Perched on the fulcrum between animals and angels, huemans are clearly confused. Everyday we choose to express our bestial or spiritual natures. Like toddlers who hate a particular vegetable, we hate someone for the color of their skin. We don’t even question the absurdity anymore. Dominant white European/American cultures have assumed the role of planetary antibodies, attacking  “invaders”who dare threaten their empire. White people (I am one) have some heavy karma and we need to face it. Time to truly make amends.

The movie Arrival raises the specter of what can happen when more evolved beings come a calling.  There are many things I love about the movie: the way Dr. Louise Banks used her intuition to communicate with the visitors; learning their language and evolving beyond linear time; the way our hands and the 7 fingered others bring our mutual sense of touch to the foreground. I also really liked the army listening to a smart woman who kept us from destroying ourselves. A winning strategy we should try more often.

Touch lights the path to intimacy, feeling and empathy. In Arrival, Louise’s intelligence and her sensitivity allowed her to access the complex language of advanced, alien beings. She dared to trust her feelings and accept her vulnerability. As a result, she evolved. It gave her the courage to have and to love a child, even though she knew her daughter would fall ill and die too young.  Her husband was not able to accept this impossible choice and left, unwilling to deal with his own vulnerability and heartbreak.

In the movie Moonlight, we see Chiron (aptly named) trying to stay alive, bullied for being gay, chased and beaten whenever his persecutors could catch him. Touch, for him, was not tender.  Intimacy came wrapped in shame, when his first kiss turned into betrayal and more pain. Even the love of his mother was tainted by her addiction and neediness.  When he was taken in by Juan (a drug dealer) and his girlfriend, Teresa, Chiron found temporary refuge from the consuming hunger of his body and soul.

Juan took him to the beach for the first time and taught him to swim, his baptism into trust. Imperfect love is love nonetheless, and Chiron was starved for human tenderness.  While he quit his friendship with Juan, after realizing that he supplied his mother with the drugs that were killing her, Chiron found ongoing refuge with Teresa, who provided sanctuary and acceptance, no questions asked.

Chiron’s sexuality and his blackness (shining indigo in the silver light of the moon) mark him as a dangerous other.  When he finally attacked and beat the bully who tormented him, he went to jail and transformed his body to remove any trace of the vulnerability that haunted his childhood.  After his release, he took the path of least resistance and started dealing drugs, claiming respect and money, burying his emotions and his sensitivity.

That changed when his first love and childhood friend, Kevin reached out to him and they met at the diner where he was the cook.  Over a blue-plate special and a bottle of wine, they reconnected.  One was a father and both were ex-cons, living on opposite sides of the law. One of the most moving scenes in the film is Chiron’s confession that he never let anyone touch him after his night on the beach with Kevin, many moons ago.  He was so vulnerable in that moment and Kevin felt it.  He reached over and took Chiron’s head onto his shoulder and held him, stroking his hair.  Touch can heal a heart hard as glass, ready to shatter at any moment.  We fear our vulnerability, but without it there is no comfort, no connection.  It’s time to take care of each other and knock down the walls of fear and hatred.  Adapt, people. We’re all in this together.

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