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OUTDOOR TRUTHS: The Value of Hug

By Gary Miller

I spend a lot of time alone. I am alone at a desk many hours a day. When I travel, whether it's to speak or hunt, I usually travel alone. I take one or two trips each year that are around 10 hours. I go alone. Most of the time, I enjoy those trips. I think a big reason is because my life at home revolves around people and their needs. So, when I leave, I get to go for hours at times and never open my mouth except to sing along with whatever is playing on my radio. Of course, I will make some calls, but I usually can take care of all my business within a short period of time. The rest of the trip is just driving, thinking, listening, and keeping my mouth shut. I really need that at times.

There is also the opposite of this scenario. After being gone a few days, I can't wait to get back home and see my wife, family, and familiar friends. And what I have really come to appreciate lately are hugs. I think as I've gotten older, I have become more of a hugger. There's something about the raw simplicity of a hug.

If you think about it, your own mother lavished you with a lot more hugs than she ever did kisses. And boys could hang on to hugs long after mom's kisses became embarrassing. A hug almost seems magical. It's fascinating how a small embrace can transfer safety, compassion, and peace, no matter who it comes from. A hug is comfort without conduct. It's security without speech. It's love without language. I wonder how many children live in hugless homes. I wonder how much violence and bullying would be eliminated from our schools if we found a way to give more hugs. I think the worst thing about prisons and jails are the absence of hugs. Cold hearts will only melt if they meet warm hearts. And hugs do just that. Bob Goff said, "The best advice I've been given when I failed - was a hug." I say, "Me too." But if that's the best advice that has been given to me, maybe it's the best advice I can give to someone else as well. I think I can do that. What about you?

Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at

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