Look To The Hand [on KS Friday]

This is the year of the hand. Not ox or rat or snake or dragon. Hand. Not merely as a symbol but as an overriding metaphor for our latest circle around the sun. And, like all good metaphors, “hand” is complex and signals more than one level of meaning.

You’d be amazed what you cannot do when both your hands are immobilized, when both your wrists are broken, when your thumbs are bound in plaster. So, the first level of meaning in our metaphor of “hand” points to all the things we take for granted. Try and wash your hair without your wrists. Try and cut a piece of bread without the use of your hands. Try to open a door without your thumbs. The failure of proper appreciation for simple function. There’s nothing like a good hard tumble, complete with casts, to revivify genuine indebtedness to the temple of the hand.

I’ve read that an opposable thumb is a physical adaptation that helped humans survive – and thrive – in our many habitats. In addition to all the things we take for granted (and now fully appreciate), our “hand” metaphor-of-the-year also reaches into the wonders of adaptation. I watched with utter amazement, two weeks after her fall and with no time off extended to her, my wife played the piano. Standing across the room you’d never know that she was in casts. This woman, who could not button a shirt, somehow, managed to play. To make music. To open hearts. Standing behind her, I was slack-jawed at the contortions required, the adaptations necessary, to reach the keys. Spread a thick layer of pandemic on top of lost jobs and injury, and the year of the hand is a miracle of rolling adaptation. An affirmation of the possible.

And, while considering miracles, I would be remiss if I did not mention the mittens. Gloves are not made for hands-in-casts. To keep hands warm while walking-through-winter we tried a succession of thick socks, borrowed mittens, and other inventions that included sacks, wraps and duct tape (I’ll leave it up to your imagination to fill in the gory details) – none of which did the simple job of keeping fingers warm. We visited multiple sporting good and camping supply stores and found possible solutions but they were not in the budget. Not even close. The year of the hand is, above all, a year of tenacity. One step at a time. Keep walking. Keep looking. Keep trying. And then, one day, an after Christmas sale brought to us, as Kerri likes to call them, her miracle mittens. They are easy to slide onto injured hands and over splints. On sale they were within our reach. “My hands are warm,” Kerri purrs as we crunch through the snow. “It’s a miracle.”

The year of the hand. Filled with appreciation for all that what was once taken for granted. Adaptation in circumstances that we might once have called impossible. Tenacity. There’s always a way. And, if we forget that we can do almost anything regardless of the fury that surrounds us – and we sometimes forget – all we need do is take a breath and look at our hands.

read Kerri’s blog post about MIRACLE MITTENS