Look at your hands. Why are you grateful for them?
I often find myself looking at other people's hands. When I see my mother's hands I hear the sound of clicking knitting needles, scrabble tiles in their velvet bag, and I recall her brushing my hair back from my brow when I was sad or sick. The hands of the drummer I work with bring to mind rhythms, the scent of campfire smoke, the jingle of hip scarves and the many excited gestures he makes when describing a new piece of music. The hands of a dancer friend, so expressive in their movements, every gesture full of meaning.
Hands carry stories in their textures, the rough calloused hands of a friend who often finds herself working outdoors; the ever soft and strong hands of a massage therapist I know; the nurse who keeps her nails clipped and clean. I am grateful for all of the things that the hands of others have given me: music, love, support, healing, warmth, food...but I have never looked closely at my own or thought much about the things that they have given me.
My hands carry long fingers with nails that are forever in need of a manicure. They are scratched from kitty rough housing, and one finger has a callous from where my crochet needle rests. They are soft because I moisturize obsessively. My hands are decorated with three rings I wear nearly everyday and each was picked not only for their appearance but to mark three occasions in my life that I wanted to remember always. My fingers are nearly always cold.
I am grateful for my hands because they help me to create. They are quick with the movements that draw yarn through loops to create a myriad of crochet projects. They remember the movements that allow my fingers to strike the correct key when typing so my thought appears on the screen only moments after it is born into my mind. I am grateful for the delicate, expressive movements they can make when I dance.
I am grateful for my hands because they are strong. They can knead the tough dough of whole grain bread. They carry bags of groceries the nearly two miles from the store to my front door. My hands have stretched canvas painting and pulled tight fabric for rug weaving. They chop, chop, chop vegetables into countless varieties of shapes for the meals that nourish me.
I am grateful for my hands because they carry comfort. They can pull a grieving friend close. They can show affection to a friends with a hand to hand embrace or reassurance with a light squeeze They can carry tissues to wipe away tears, or hold back the hair of an ill friend, they can massage tired feet. They can hold up my gran when she needs help walking. They can catch a passing stranger when they slip on the icy sidewalk.
I sometimes think about what life would be like if I lost my sight or my hearing but I've not given thought to what life might be like without my hands. I'm sure I'd find a way to adapt and maybe even be able to still do many of the things that I've written about above, but right now I'm grateful that they are there, attached to my wrists and fully functional.