Tales

Look Not to the Mind, But to the Hands

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?

Artsy yoga hand picture brought to you by my 4 year old

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 son trying to learn my hand’s secrets

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.

My daughter’s and my late grandmother’s hands. I’m not crying, you are.

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!

I’m apparently delicious

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