For me, 2023 opened on a promise to myself to write more. Life’s short! Of course, I want to continue to support my family and work at my day job, but also I want to open up and explore a creative side of me that has been pushed to one side for some years. I still have some new starts and projects in me, and I’d like that to be now.
I also started the year with an injured left hand, from some badly thought-out home improvements in late 2022.
The hand is the tool of tools — Aristotle
I’ve always had a thing about hands. I watch people’s hands as a way of understanding them; their shape, movement and texture all form a story or a language of their own. We can learn so much about a person from their hands’ clasp, or the way they reach out. Careworn hands from years of caring. Strong, gentle hands who lift you up. Forceful hands that crush your own in a gripping shake, a parochial attempt to dominate. Shy hands that falter. Cruel hands that hit. Warm hands, bearing soups, bandages, and healing. I think of hands as cups, vessels in which we can hold love and hope, to share, to broadcast. Waves of hellos and goodbyes. Who blows a kiss without channelling it through their fingers? We hold hands, to pull each other up, away from danger, or towards our embrace. Someone else’s fingertips tracing the shape of our face. We can hold the world and each other with our eyes, souls and hearts — but often, we do this with our hands.
I watch hands. All the time.
My own, meanwhile, was a bruised, torn mess. While my poor left hand healed, instead of forcing it to type all day, I left my keyboard and went out to seek new ideas and a creative mind space.
The first thing I did was go for a walk with my little dog. He’s not quite lead-trained, so I coupled a little light training with the beautiful views of our landscape – granite, Atlantic waves, bleak dunes, big skies and all that; the perfect fuel for creative ideas. Then a leaf blew by in the winter wind, and my little dog lurched after it, yanking my right hand and twisting my pinky finger, which swelled up and went a funny shape. And REALLY hurt.
Turns out there are a lot of nerve endings in a pinky finger. I was a fully-fledged squealy wimp, and there were cups of sweet tea.
This wasn’t ideal, but I don’t really use my pinky for much, including typing, so avoiding A&E like the (literal) plague, I bound it up and carried on.
The next day, I took my dogs to the beach, where no leads are required. Little dog launched himself after a ball, galloped back and dropped it at my feet. When I bent to pick it up, however, someone else’s dog lunged in and bit… not the ball, but my hand. A shriek, a stunning high jump, and I was safely back at my car, clutching my now bleeding and bruised right hand (which still had its bent and swollen pinky finger).
A few antibacterial wipes later, and I was OK to type gently, with two fingers.
The third day, I walked over the clifftops where we could be alone and my little dog could be off-lead, although my elderly, arthritic dog needed to be on a lead near the drop-offs. He doesn’t pull, so my delicate hand would be safe. We gazed from on high over a stunning seascape, the gulls wheeling overhead, before heading down a steep, rocky footpath. Then my dog slipped on a wet stile, yanked me, and I skidded down the path on my backside before crashing to a stop against some gorse-covered granite chunks. It took three days for me to finish digging out the 13 — thirteen — deeply embedded gorse splinters from, you guessed it, THE SAME DAMN HAND.
Some hot water, antiseptic cream, pain relief, sticking plasters, and a large whisky later, and I was in no way, shape or form able to use either hand for anything other than self-pity air gesticulations. I played online scrabble using my thumb but the stupid app wouldn’t take swear words.
Bollocks, I said.
Sometimes I think, or maybe hope, that our experiences teach us. I hope I can learn, or at least swim with the flow, or something. Perhaps this is my time to come up with creative ideas? Perhaps I should write something funny? Perhaps I should wear gloves when I walk my dogs? Perhaps this is my time to read. I mean, what better use for a single working thumb than flipping Kindle pages?
Or maybe, 2023 is the year when I’m supposed to drink. There’s always that. Scotch, anyone?
I think it might be that.
Drink and Kindle? Bottoms Up!
Happy wri… reading 😊❤🙏