“I don’t know how to use my hands anymore”, she said quietly, looking down at her ten thin fingers lazily spread on the table before her. “I use them when I talk and I use them to write, I can dress myself with these hands and I can show love with them, too, but other than that I don’t know what to do with them. Sometimes I wake in the night and my body feels like it’s shrinking. Like the growing pains of childhood, but instead of lengthening, things are shriveling and it’s even more painful. This isn’t supposed to be happening yet, is it?”
She paused briefly and tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear. She absently traced the lines in the table with her index finger and continued. “It’s like my body is telling me to work, to move, to push it harder. I don’t mean it wants to spend time in the gym or on a yoga mat, no. It wants action. It wants to remember the feeling of running barefoot in the woods, wants to hold strong against the wind as my limbs cling to the rough branches of a tree. My body wants bruises and scars, pain and strength.
“My hands quake sometimes. They don’t want to cup computer mice and dance across keyboards, they want to build things and become calloused. But they’re clumsy and don’t know how to do these things and I mentally cannot imagine in what capacity I’d be able to step off the concrete and fall into grasses or where I’d find a wood in which to get lost.
“How does one learn to use one’s hands? How does one begin a new kind of life?” She looked up at me, inquiring, but I didn’t know, either.
‘Tis the season of want. The season of stuff, of things; the season celebrating greed and luxury instead of kindness and joy. My inbox has been flooded with sad attempts at trying to make wanting sentimental, as if the savings in your pocketbook and piles of gifts you’re able to purchase mean more than the minutes you’ll spend with your loved ones in conversation and laughter.
This Christmas, let’s forget the stuff and the things. Let us remember instead the comfort of a strong embrace, the glow of a smile, and the way a chorus of laughter can heat a home better than any furnace. Let us remember to make with our hands, give with our hearts, and accept each day with a smile.
Photos taken a week or so ago in Cheltenham. Beautiful, no?