10 July, 2006

In Praise of Hands

Dear reader, I've been trying oh-so-hard to turn this blog back toward military matters and the typical troop-support posts I've written in the past. I thought I was headed back that direction today, but Cassandra and the Oink Cadre blind-sided me this morning.

Now (thanks to comments on her post), I'm rather distracted. We got to talking about hands... particularly men's hands.

I don't know why hands hold such fascination for me, but they do.

Perhaps it has something to do with being a professional pianist/organist... the hours of focus on moving my hands just the right way in the practice room, the obsessive focus on my professors and fellow students demonstrating techniques with their own hands, the transcendant experience of watching up-close-and-personal as a world-class player caresses the piano/organ/violin with both fire and tenderness. Even watching an expert trumpeter--who primarily uses only three fingers--was endlessly fascinating.

But I have a similar reaction to watching a man work with his hands in any capacity--from swinging a hammer to opening a jar of pickles to simply typing... it's all beautiful.

Hands are truly one of God's greatest creations; from crushing strength to caressing tenderness... from a fist of anger and protection to a well-trained tool of delicacy and expressive conversation. And as with all things male and female, the beauty is in the contrasts.

I'm short, and my hands are proportional to that (my feet, alas, are not). And so, every man who has taken my hand--whether in business or pleasure--has given me pause in our contrasts. Short little fingers against those nearly twice their size, thick and calloused fingers entirely engulfing another's hand. I'm always struck with the whismy of how wonderfully different those hands really are... the desire to take the offered hand, turn it over and compare finger and palm length and width, to run my fingers between his and see how much space there is between each one, to see if his are as flexible as mine (half double-jointed), to check for callouses and scars and hear the stories of each, to thumb wrestle and tickle and laugh...

Hands are amazing. It's not the visuals and the pictures; it's the movement, the graceful dance that the most "uncoordinated" of us perform without even thinking. Whether the typist, the farmer, factory worker, or public speaker, we all use our hands for what we've taught them to do. And they do it so very well... a beautiful dance of everyday life.

And as JHD said over at Cassandra's, "Who would've ever figgered that hands would be the deal!"

You men really have no idea. ;)