You don’t Hug Your Mother?

I was listening to Enter Shikari yesterday (a band I enjoy for not only their musical talent, but their ability to tie catchy, synth-based, heavy style of euro hardcore rock with their world views and obligation to point out all the wrong and injustices that are happening all around us on a global level) when I decided to look up some lyrics to a song of theirs which included a quote from Mohandas Gandhi. The quote is him identifying himself as a “Soldier of peace….” amongst other ideas, but for some reason stuck with me at that point. I must have been at the right place at the right time considering I’ve listened to this EP multiple times and listening to it yesterday inspired me to read Gandhi’s autobiography.

After listening to the track, I immediately sprinted for the library, and checked out the book as they were about to close.

"Gandhi mate, Gandhi"
“Gandhi mate, Gandhi”

I would like to point out that this is the largest book I’ve had the courage to check out from the library since I began making frequent trips earlier this year. Something about the volume of the book (in this case over 500 pages) along with the three weeks of checkout time gives me a little anxiety and pressure to finish the read within the given time. Another side of me knows I can extend the length of time, but my pride won’t let me do that. The voice inside my head telling me, if it takes you longer than three weeks to finish a book, it wasn’t meant to be read at this point in time. Surprisingly this pressure has subsided and I feel little to no worries in the possibility of not being able to finish this book.

I’ll be finishing up the first part in the story by tonight and a few things have stood out to me in an attempt to relate to the author. For one, he is incredibly loyal to his family. He seems to feel a deeper obligation to obey and satisfy the needs of his parents more than his own wife. This is where him and I began to see things differently. I hold views that would be perceived to be on the other end of this emotional spectrum. Not to say that what he is doing is wrong, I just agree to disagree. I don’t recall the specifics of why he feels this way, but respect his decision to cater to his parents needs when he is near and far away from them. While he does try experimenting with multiple things that go against his beliefs, (meat eating, “sins” of the flesh, and cigarette smoking) he does have a strong will to obey once vows have been set.

A second trait that stood out (should come to no surprise) was his liking to vegetarianism. Once again, by continuing to abide by his mother’s wishes, he continues to not eat meat, and after discovering the upcoming following of vegetarianism in England he essentially lives a vegan lifestyle. There is a scene in the book when he is going out to eat and having to embarrassingly ask his server how and with what ingredients the food he ordered has been prepared. I know I’m not the only one who was able to relate to this. I’ve been in that setting multiple times and (just like the author) ended up having to cook the majority of my meals at home (a task I welcome with great joy and pleasure.) This left me with a feeling that I’m not so strange after all. I imagine most people who wish to go through a dietary change such as this must encounter this at least once in their lives.

One recurring trait he continues to mention and what stands out the most thus far is his shyness. From childhood to young adulthood (and for the rest of his life) he is crippled with shyness and mentions that this inhibited him from picking up new languages as a youth. Even as a committee member of a local vegetarian club he helped start in his area, he finds public speaking comes with acute illness and fatigue. He mentions that he has more control over this as an adult, but can never get over this feeling of being shy.

This got me thinking what are some traits I have that I feel inhibited to function as a “more normal” human being amongst other. If you would have asked me this question when I was still in highschool I would have responded with a studdor I have in my speech. I seem to have better control over it, but it is something I deal with every day. When it comes to making phone calls, to speaking with new acquaintances, to initiating a public announcement, I have trouble getting things started.When I feel this coming, I usually let most of the air out of my lungs and began my sentence with the last of my breath to ensure the words will come out smoother than the jagged cadence of a studor with full breath, which usually controls the problem.

Another thing is my preferences to physical touching with other people. This still stands today and to this day I cannot justify why I feel such a way. I know certain gestures exist to comfort one another, but for me, things like pats on the back, hugs, and even handshakes make me uncomfortable. My normal go-to greeting is me raising my hand to wave at someone from a distance. It has nothing to do with cleanliness or germs. Something about the physical act of skin touching another’s is an unsettling feeling. This is why I don’t hug my mom much anymore. While I associate myself as hispanic, I cannot honestly say that I enjoy or feel welcomed by the customary hug with a kiss on either side of the cheek. Heaven forbid after I’ve summed up the courage to greet people like this at a party, you then expect me to say goodbye and part ways with everyone on a one-on-one basis (just thinking about doing that gives me chills.) That being said, I have learned to set these feelings aside when it comes to the topic of significant others. I know that for the sake of the species, things like this need to happen, and I need to be comfortable with that.

I have tried and tried to figure out where this comes from, but have failed to find an answer. In reading this book so far, I have learned that hero’s have flaws, and that’s okay. Little insecurities like shyness aren’t so foreign and can have optimistic spins on them. For example, Gandhi states that he is glad that he reserves his words in such a way because there hasn’t been a single unthought word that has come from his mouth. While it may take him a little longer to respond. The listener can expect a well thought out response that is concise and meaningful. As for me and my dislike of being touched, I’m sure the time will come when I can put a positive spin on this. until next time….




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