When she arrived, I stood to greet her with a hug. That's what we do. Over time and shared experience, every friendship develops its own unique way of expressing and demonstrating its connection and mutual meaning – life with life. We hug.
For me, there's never anything perfunctory about a hug. No one would ever accuse me of being overly affectionate, but I'm also not one to knowingly lend my emotional strength to “keeping up appearances.” At the risk of show-casing some of my own designer baggage, I don't usually worry much about most conventional niceties.
Our greeting lasted no more than a moment. Although time loses relevance where shared life is concerned; a split-second glance can carry a lifetime of meaning between friends. But at that precise moment, the owner of the cafe happened to walk by and remarked, “That's some hug.” Without missing a beat we responded, “We practice.”
It wasn't so much that we practiced the physical act of hugging (although that is our customary greeting). It's our practice of celebrating and honoring our friendship that results in hugs. Over the course of our friendship, we've simply made thousands of little choices that have slowly created an intentional habit of choosing understanding, support, and genuine encouragement (as in, speaking courage to places of fear and concern). And, I guess it showed.
Then again, our habits of choice always show – even when they are more about our ways of being than our ways of doing. In Making Life Better, I raised this idea as part of a Thought Experiment:
“In the, “not yet,” we can see ourselves easily acting, reacting, thinking and feeling in ways that are absolutely true to ourselves – consistent with our deepest values and congruent with our highest sense of purpose... But many times, we can find ourselves excusing, or putting off, some of our “not yet” ways of being until some our “not yet” circumstances have fallen into place.“
But it's always “now” and it's never “not yet.” Whatever it is we wish to be or become in the “not yet” – whether it has to do with health, finances, relationships, career, attitude, or even hugs – every step toward any “not yet” desire can only be taken now, where we are, with who we are. And within each and every moment lies the opportunities to practice at least a little of what that means to us. We don't have to wait for any special day or set of circumstances. Tuesdays are just fine.