August 19, 2010 1:10-2:10 pm
East Plaza of Chicago Board of Trade Building (Jackson at LaSalle)
He was crying as he approached us, and said, “I really need a Hug.”
I had never stood at this particular spot, at the square in front of the Board of Trade. The statues and architecture are beautiful, historical, classical. The people had a certain way of eying us up and down, or simply didn’t see us until they were within inches. This one man, as we set up, though, he was so affected. He told us he had been thinking of his father who had died about a year before, and his birthday, which he shared, that was coming up next week. He had seen our sign, and then he had seen us. We did hug him, both of us, at once, before and again, after listening to his story. And through his tears, his eyes lit up and a smile turned his lips. He said he believed in bigger things.
I noticed the way people took our flyers. Really took them. We went through more today than ever before. Strange, I thought, in a time when we have too much flotsam jetsam as it is. Is it the invitation “Please take one” that arouses the curiosity? Or is it the pair of red clad bodies 20 feet from HUG that causes pause? I notice the ebb and flow of interest and disregard.
On our walk to the Hug, I was tense, my solar plexis a hard fist. Too many unfinished thoughts and unresolved tasks. By the end of the hour, I am present again, and feel relaxed, even excited. I get back to the office to face the rest of the day. A coworker comes over and asks me about my red outfit, my HUG sign. I tell her the story of the man in tears. As I am telling her this, she herself begins to fan her eyes. An unexpected wave of emotion has overcome her. I give her a hug, and she seems perplexed and a little embarrassed by her own reaction. I wonder why, but I dont question, I know the power of compassion. I still feel the strength of it now.
Special wonderful thanks to Ginger, a dancer and performance artist, who saw us, hugged us, took these wonderful pictures of us, and gave us sweet encouragement.