Once the realization is accepted that even between the two closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.Rainer Maria Rilke, German Poet
The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every corner of the globe—not just nations—but so many peculiar aspects of our daily lives. And yet, here we are challenged not to touch at all. Did you ever think handshakes would be turned away or hugs held back? These fundamental gestures are second nature to us, particularly as Westerners. So, what now? If we adhere to distance-friendly greetings as a means to slow the spread…what does that even look like besides awkward exchanges of empty, extended hands and weird air-hugs?
Here are a few meaningful and even comical greetings we might consider from cultures around the world to iconic entertainment.
In the Southern states, it is not uncommon for a real cowboy to tip his hat. But despite popular myths, not everyone in the South rides horses and lives on a ranch. So, the nod, with or without a hat, is a common adaptation which means “hello” or “howdy.”
Hand on Heart.
I have seen this one personally in Mexico and a few other Latin destinations. It transcends every language…placing a hand on one’s heart. The simple gesture translates pure intentions and honesty in many cultures. It also demonstrates genuineness, that one is giving their word of honor, or pledge of allegiance. To me, it communicates “agape,” which means “brotherly love,” and that is why it is my favorite non-touch greeting. I believe the world could use a little more compassion for one for another these days.
Hands in Prayer.
The calming act of placing one’s hands together in front of the heart and smiling is a customary Hindu gesture which communicates both “hello” and “goodbye.” It literally translates to “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.” It is seen frequently in yoga practices as well.
You remember Mr. Spock’s split finger wave, accompanied by the words, “Live long and prosper.” Why not? It’s at least good for an ice breaker or a chuckle between friends. Do you know the real meaning behind Spock’s Vulcan greeting? Watch Leonard Nimoy explain the Jewish origin behind the iconic greeting in this short YouTube video. It’s fascinating and surprisingly beautiful!
There are plenty more ways to show nonverbal greeting and affection. What’s more, it is intriguing to learn the origins and meanings of so our basic human greetings. Anything to make us feel more connected these days is welcomed—touch-free, of course.
I’d love to hear how you have adapted your greetings. Please share in the comments!