Touching a Giraffe

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Click here for her website:

Now, on to my blog:

LG feeding giraffeI was on an amazing trip to Africa a few months ago.  One day, we stopped at a giraffe rescue compound.  Up close and personal was their philosophy.  The staff even gave us food pellets to feed to our long-necked friends.  What a privilege to be able to touch such a beast.

Touch is one of our five senses which gets less than its fair share of credit.  We’re so focused on vision and hearing, that we forget the importance of touch in the quality of life.

Animals love to be petted.  Touch yields purring from our cats and contented sighs from our dogs.  But, what does touching an animal do for us?  Is it like an electrical charge of mutual joy between the human touchor and the animal touchee?

To me it is.  There is something about touching an animal that immediately calms me.  It could be I am so focused on the task that I’m not thinking about anything else.  However, I suspect it’s more than that.  It’s a tactile sharing with a sentient being of this earth–a non-judgmental one without an agenda.  I feel their touch as much as they feel mine.  And it just plain feels good!  I have written on the importance of touch in this blog before (See “Hugs,” February 17, 2018, and “The Power of Touch,” February 4, 2016.”)

Some people seem wary of touch or even averse to it.  I can understand that; it’s a kinetic interaction which can be perceived as uncomfortable to them.  When you plan on touching another, whether human or otherwise, be sensitive to whether they enjoy that sensation or not.

If you are one who has never liked being touched too much, you might try to accustom yourself to it.  Start by taking baby steps, maybe with gentle, domestic animals.  Slowly move up from there as touch becomes more palatable.   You may discover a contentment you’ve been missing.

Don’t forget to include touch in your interaction with folks.  Touch your children, grandchildren, and those you love.  Touch a stranger when appropriate.  A handshake, a pat on the hand, or linking arms can melt even the iciest, most standoffish opponent.


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Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, senior citizens, successful aging

4 responses to “Touching a Giraffe

  1. Sheila Sauber

    Great picture! We never got up close and personal with animals in Africa. How fun. Sheila

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. And your smile is luminous!

  3. The experience was so incredible and other-worldly, that I was gobsmacked (that’s the second time I’ve gotten to use that trendy word in my blog:-)

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