Hugging is such a personal act. So many friends consider a hug a chance to say hello and to send a general message of happy greetings. However, the hugs at DENSI were not quite the norm. The hugs weren't different because we only hug once a year or because I know you missed me intently since the last time we hugged. The hugs were different because I made them different. I interjected a camera to capture the moment and to permanently plant that visual in my head and the head of all those whom I chose to share it with online and off. Here are the things I learned from those pre-planned, long held hugs that you provided me during the 2014 Discovery Summer Institute:
1. Hugging someone (with approval :)) provides a feeling of total relief and complete relaxation. Even if the hug is preplanned and not totally natural. A hug can definitely cause you to relax, even if just for a moment.
2. Hugging people you don't know may not be a comfortable request, but the end results are worth the effort.
3. If hugging people over and over loses its flair and excitement, the former huggers have successfully filled your hug quota. Stop for the night and start again in the morning. Don't worry, you will be ready!
4. If hugging doesn't invoke smiles, laughter and a firmer squeeze, than you aren't putting enough effort into it. Try harder!
5. Having someone come hug you voluntarily after you have been requesting hugs from many others is the ultimate reward and reminds you that you are doing it for a reason. You never know which one of the 50 people you hugged today were saved by that moment.
Take a minute to hug your friends today, natural or unnatural (by means of photographing, I mean), those firm hugs release endorphins that can cause a person to perk up and cheer up even on the worst of days. I love my friends! Thanks for hugging me back!