There’s a saying about eyes being the windows to the soul, and maybe this is correct in a deep down philosophical level, but from my view hands are the most telling, most honest part of a person. What you do for a living, what you love, how you take care of yourself, it’s all in the hands, and it doesn’t take high level Sherlockian deductions skills at all to read hands.
When I’ve knitted a lot I’ve had a callus on my right thumb, from pushing the left needle down. I’m what’s referred to as a ‘thrower’ or too unskilled with my left hand as to hold the yarn with it and pick it up with the right needle. My useless left hand hold a mostly stationary needle while my right hand does all the throwing, twisting and pushing.
When I ride or garden a lot my nails are broken, full of dirt and generally sore but happy hands. Yes, my hands have their own emotions.
When I work a lot the back of my hands are veiny, the palms muscled. It’s the same for anyone who works with their hands.
Feel the hands of a restaurant worker, of a massage therapist or a farmer. Then feel the hands of a desk jockey. There’s a night and day difference between the two. The one firm and dry, callused, less attractive perhaps on the surface but infinitely more certain in their movements. The other much softer, smoother, pampered I would like to say, but in reality unaware. Hands with no brain attached to them.
An octopus’ tentacles can operate independently of each other in perfectly chaotic unison. As an intelligent desk jockey of an adult to wash their hands and not touch their face, their phone or any other unsanitary surface for more than 5 minutes and they will fail.
Without question they will fail. I pick unfairly on desk jockeys though. Most people will fail at this. Our loss of connection to our hands, our senses beyond our eyes is so deep already I wonder if in a few more generations they will be lost completely. Give it to me at the speed of social media or don’t give it to me at all.
Here’s an exercise for you. Read the following words out loud, the first two stanzas of William Blake’s The Tyger, and rub your hands together all over, the palms, the backs, in between your fingers:
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
That was 20 seconds. Now do it again. And again. And as many times as you need to memorize those words and that time frame. Maybe this is too pretentious for you. Maybe I should tell you what my doctor said, he was always told to do his ABCs. It’s the same length of time. 20 seconds.
20 seconds of hand washing is all it takes for you to clean your hands. To remove any traces of a virus or bacteria. But it’s only the beginning.
The hands are a blank canvas at this point, free of imperfections, no matter that they look like.
From here think of what your hands do. Stand with your hands up, elbows held close to the body. You’re a doctor now, ready to be gloved before surgery. Touch nothing. Not your face, not your hair, not your clothes. Just stand, another 20 seconds. Keep doing it until your hands develop that awereness. Or until you become aware of your own hands.
It’s a simple first step. It’s that first thing that could keep you alive and well. All it takes is 20 seconds.