Part of the definition of humbled comes from having one’s body part fail in some way. It’s a swift and powerful reminder of how fragile the balance is after all, and how easily forgotten our limitations are. When I say limitations, I do not mean we’re fragile by design and thus doomed, but that the tissues that form our bodies are, after all, no matter how many miles you run, swim or cycle in a day, breakable. Knowing that adds beautiful dimensions to life, doesn’t it, just as much as it adds that inescapable feeling of doom. Do not give into it though, that’s not what this is about.
More humbling yet is that the occasional painful reminder inserts itself mysteriously into your daily routine and there’s not telling where it came from or when it will end. There’s also a silly resemblance to a mouse you’d hold by its tail, if you will, though no tails are needed to paint this picture. You’re the mouse. It’s the nagging discomfort that holds you upside down until you figure out how to reposition yourself upright with grace and dignity; or at least one of them.
I am learning how to be a leftie these days, for two weeks ago a tendon in my right hand decided to travel away from its well-designed groove (or what seemed to be well-designed up to this point anyway) and over the knuckle it went, leaving an empty space behind and lots of questions in my mind as to why the sudden change. Mystery is the salt of life? Perhaps. Less funny when you’re it. Acceptance, they say, is what carries you to where the said grace and dignity reside.
Past the annoyance of pain and inability to carry on with the usual activities using my trusted right hand (I trust them both, but I have obviously favourited my right one so far), there is a side of me that is fascinated with the current limitations. As I walk around protecting my right hand from further injury, I am humbled by the realization that the rest of me works just fine and that that is a level of wonder many of us have come to acknowledge as an ordinary state of affairs as we go about our day. I’d say we ought to declare that a sin of some sort.
Would it be too much to say we take ourselves for granted? Never before has more research poured out our way, laying as thick as can be the knowledge that should keep us working in good order for the rest of our lives: eat healthy instead of pretending to or finding lame excuses to binge such as ‘you only live once’, sleep enough (despite of the lifeless blue-bad-for-you-light gadgets promising the world which by the way, they’ll never deliver but we take our chances anyway), get up and move around so our veins don’t turn stiff too soon; you get the idea.
The thing is, for the most part, we go about our days treating our bodies with a certain degree of recklessness, fully unaware of the wonders they carry within. On the days when a Facebook post reminds us poetically that we are but stardust, we throw a longer gaze at our sun-kissed forearms or spend a few extra minutes looking at our reflection in the mirror, wondering how it is that atoms linked together become vision, taste, or awareness of the sudden flutter of a moth we startled as we walked by and brushed against the curtains.
So here’s to wishing that my days spent as a leftie (that will be a few weeks, I am told) will leave me with an extra helping of gratitude for being able to clench my fists whenever I need to (in the near future), or sew a button on my oldest son’s shirt, or paint, chop onions and carrots, make apple sauce, and throw some dice when the days end with playing a board game, which I am hoping they will. Simplicity. Taking sips from the half-full glass and trusting that it’ll never run empty.
It’s the simple things that carry the biggest reminders; perhaps because as we go through life we realize that there is no big story waiting to happen that will help us unlock gratitude. The secret lies with the small, simple events that we spin into long threads, day after day, which then we make into tapestries, knots showing, because that’s what this story is all about. Some times are knottier than others. Be it so, keeping it real is what we’re here for. To wish for no bigger blessing than to be able to remember all of this I go along, no matter if my hands are available to help me do so, that is what I am hoping the days spent as a leftie will leave behind.