BASIC NEEDS series / Empathy / Love / We Are Connected

Human Kindness: I Found Love at a Dental Office

It’s been a tough year, an emotionally heavy year. I’ve seen the worst in people this year–the absolute worst–and I’m unsettled with what I’ve seen. But SPRING is here, and I’m inspired once again by the first flowers of the season. They remind me of the promise of rebirth and hope, enough that I’m starting to see the best in people, too. Darkness can’t hold out forever. In the natural order of things, lightness must also have its say.

I’ve had the great joy lately (<– heavy handed sarcasm!) of sitting in one too many dentist chairs. Actually, I started with a dentist but have migrated to primarily dontists–the orthodontist, the endodontist, the periodontist. In the last two months, I’ve been to four dental offices in total, having major work done at each of them. I’ve not been a happy camper.

That’s why it was particularly touching to receive an unexpected gift from the receptionist at the periodontist office last week. I arrived at the office with a lot on my mind, not the least of which was the extensive laser work I was about to have done on my gums. I recall being heavy in thought and staring out into space, when the receptionist walked over to me from behind the counter and said, “Awe, sweetie. Are you okay? You look like you need a hug. Can I give you a hug?”

“Oh, I’m okay,” I lied, “But sure, I’ll take a hug. I can always use a hug.”

Once she wrapped herself around me, it took everything I had to hold back the tears. But when she looked me in the eye afterwards, there was little I could do to keep my composure. In her eyes, I saw her soul, and it was full of love. I’m certain that in that moment, the dark pools of my eyes must’ve opened wide, because her light easily found its way in. Her gesture of kindness–her untethered empathy–touched me to the soul. The feeling was so strong, I had to look away in an attempt to break it and escape the visceral need to have a good cry. Luckily, I was saved by a dental assistant who arrived just in time to call my name and usher me into one of the back rooms.

An hour-and-a-half later, after the periodontist poked, prodded and lasered my gums, I shuffled towards the front desk again, this time with my numbed face, slurred words, and war-weary self in tow. The receptionist took one look at me and once again stood up to deliver a hug. “Oh, you poor thing,” she said, holding me as warmly as my own mother would. It’s a rarely acknowledged, fortunate fact that hugs are contagious . . . within seconds, my periodontist hugged me too. We had a love fest, right there in the dental office, and I was smack dab in the middle of it.

This is the promise of the SPRING season . . . that at any moment, something beautiful is likely to blossom right before your eyes or deep within your soul . . . that HOPE and LOVE are just around the corner, ready to embrace you when you most need it and least expect it.

If you want to help heal the world, start today by giving someone you hardly know a hug–especially someone your inner radar tells you might need it. With a simple hug, you have the power to reset their day, and possibly a whole lot more. LOVE is the one thing this world could always use more of. And nothing says ‘love’ quite as well as a hug.

[DEDICATED to staff member Pauline and to Dr. Elizabeth Tandy at Palo Verde Periodontics in Gilbert, AZ. Thanks for the hugs!]


Do you have a hug story to share? Please do so in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it.

If you hugged someone after having read this post because you were inspired to do so, I’d especially love to hear what that experience was like for you, what you saw it do to the person you hugged. Do you agree with my assessment of the power of a simple hug?

Love you guys and gals,

Thanks for reading!

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BASIC NEEDS: Empathy (We’re All Connected or Have We Forgotten?)

BASIC NEEDS Being Met? Feelings are the Signal

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