When I was at a weight loss program meeting a lifetime ago, the leader of said meeting asked a curious question: “What part of your body do you have affection for?”
Um. What? Affection? Like I have for a favorite pet or a cozy blanket?
After a minute or so of not-so-surreptitiously looking at the variety of (mostly) ladies around me, I just stared at my lap at my hands, palms up. And I smiled. Hi hands, I like you! Wait, I like my hands?
But it’s true! I am struck by the magic of my hands on a regular basis. Why? Good question.
I come from a line of skilled craftswomen. My mother collects hobbies like some people collect porcelain dolls; she sews, knits, beads, creates chainmail and jewelry… I could go on. All of her hobbies have one thing in common: they are all done in or by hand. My mother’s mother could sew and crochet while watching TV mystery dramas and never miss a stitch or a plot point. I was always in awe of these talents and thought them some kind of magic that I couldn’t ever attain myself. And then I realized: it’s all in the HANDS.
My earliest memories of my mom, grandmother, and my many aunts have been of their hands. Nimble fingertips with neatly trimmed nails and a well-earned callous or two. Lean fingers, even in arthritis, moving quickly and confidently at their task. I watched those hands make a pie crust, mend a blanket, pin fabric together for a costume; they smoothed my hair out of my face, put a Band-Aid on my knee, and held my hand to cross the street. These hands hugged me, fed me, made things for me.
Fast forward to me being an adult *vhs-fast-forward-sound*
I realize I find peace in doing things with my hands because they are smarter than me. They have knowledge my brain can’t even comprehend. How do I know? Every time my brain tries to drive in when I’m spinning yarn, whether on a spindle or on my spinning wheel, my yarn looks like a mat I combed off my cat. But if I distract my brain with a conversation or even a TV show, the yarn is smooth. Even. Butt out, brain.
Despite the annoying habit of being rough enough to sand a 2×4, my fingers know when the soil is just dry enough in my potted plants to need water. They know just the right tension make a stitch in my sashiko. They even can oh-so-delicately get a pastry crust to lie just right in the pie pan. My hands are my connection to my world and my past; plus, they are quite tasty to bumbles!