These Hands


I have adequate hands. They are average. Proportionate.

These hands:


In other words: they do exactly what they are supposed to.

There is no need to say anything about hands that are as they are expected to be.


Why is it that when I loose myself from the keyboard and write by hand that the connection between my hands and my brain sharpens? Perhaps it is because my brain is concerned with wielding the pen in my fingers. I have to hold the thing–I have to make the thing work. Otherwise why is it there? There is an urgency. There is a need to fulfill a purpose.

It is comforting to be assigned to hand write, to make characters on the page–lettering is really just a form of drawing, isn’t it? Is this why I still love and use cursive? So that I might draw, as I write?

When I hand write, I am scribbling, sketching as much as writing, sketching in letter-shapes that build words; I am not planning this; this is just what the brain and the hands make together; this is the result of their secret conference.


The turning over of my entire body to my hands–I so rarely allow for this.

My work, my mattering, who I have come to be in my just over three decades of existence, this is all hinged upon and derived from the skills of my brain, my mouth. What I can think and say. If the hands are anything, they are peripheral.

We spurn the limbs and call them “extremities.” Remote. So far from our sense of being.


Earlier this year a good friend and I went to Butler University to try their high ropes course. On certain Fridays/Saturdays, use of this course is free, contingent upon a person arriving at the course to secure a time slot.

We arrived in timely fashion; we secured a slot; we geared up as instructed; we listened to and participated in the brief training; we walked from the training area to the apparatus; we joined a line of people making the climb up.

I was the last of our training group to make the climb, which was good and bad for me. Good because I had a chance to see how things work and develop a strategy (socialphobe functioning secret: constantly observe/emulate). Bad because I had time to worry. Bad because I had time to think, to possibly talk myself out of what I’d decided to do.

I had assumed this course was within my capabilities. I have done high ropes courses before. I have in the past year or so done a bit of indoor climbing that seemed to me a sort of reasonable preparation.

When I started to climb, a few things occurred to me:

  • It was probable that I was not in fact adequately fit and prepared for this sort of exertion.
  • Why did I expect that my fear of heights would just go away because I was heights-ing voluntarily?
  • I am not one for being in another’s attention and the person belaying me absolutely had to pay attention to my entire, complete, slow, awkward, panicked climb to the top of the tower, and I would just have to endure this because there was no way at this point to be a gracious quitter (another mortifying state of being).

But none of these thoughts came to me formed in words, not until later. At the time, there were no thoughts. There was only the shortness of breath that comes with exertion. There was only an intense, wide-eyed focus on the task at hand. Literally, at hand.

All of the pain and the purpose of that moment centralized itself into this one aspect of me. My hands. And me holding on.

As I climbed, I kept looking at my hands. As if they would somehow disappear or cease working if I did not see their working. If I did not regard them as more than an extremity. One of the farthest things, making everything possible.

This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox. Today’s prompt: No screens, no technology – what did you do with your hands this year?

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