Sharing Space

Touch is easily the most underutilized of the senses…

I learned this from a colleague when I was doing Admissions for a private vocational college. One of the programs was massage therapy and whenever I had a question for the program director, she would roll her chair across the short expanse of the cubicle hallway and put 2 fingertips on my knee before answering. If she was standing next to me, it would be my elbow instead of my knee, and as we got to know each other, it was my shoulder or lower back. It was an extremely light touch, almost like it wasn’t there at all. She wasn’t using me for support, rather just the opposite.

I asked her about those 2 fingertips.

“Touch is powerful,” she said. She always spoke like that. “I want you to know that I’m sharing space with you.”

She didn’t do this with everyone. She had a sense of who could handle it. (Touch is indeed powerful enough to harm a relationship as well as reinforce it.)

I noticed that no matter how hectic her day when she came over to answer my question with her palm flat on her own knee and her outstretched fingers reaching silently across the divide to make contact, she not only gave me her full attention but I gave her mine. Her touch placed us inside a bubble that blocked out sound and blurred the background.

We got so much done in that bubble.

I don’t know the science of 2 fingers on a knee but over time our connection grew extremely strong. We became allies. We braved many storms in that place. We made the space our own.

I never outstretched my own fingers. I guess offering the knee was enough.