Tuesday, July 18, 2006

USING YOUR HANDS

Just before Valentine’s Day, my mom would cover the kitchen table with a bunch of supplies – sequins, beads, glitter, glue, doilies, markers, crayons, and colored construction paper. She never gave instructions; instead, she’d let me and my brother dive into the pile of goods. To this day, I remember the pleasure of the process, the satisfaction of handling all the different textures. I even remember the great feeling of putting little patches of Elmer’s glue on my hands so that I could peel it off after it had dried.

Looking back at my days as a young person, I realize that the most meaningful and gratifying experiences were those of the “hands-on” sort, the ones where I got to be physically connected to a task. Now, as an adult who lives in an age where speed, efficiency, and convenience rule, I find it challenging but important to stay involved in the world through activities that require use of my physical self, namely the use of my hands.

When I use my hands in a project, I slow down. I connect in a deeper way to the experience, to my other senses, and, if I am working collaboratively, to the people or person I am with. When I prepare a meal with my boyfriend, Mike, I often feel the same way I did when I was making Valentine cards at my childhood kitchen table – totally immersed in the project, relishing the experience of using my hands to implement choices, taking pride in the results of those choices.

STUFF YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR HANDS

Give a massage
Knit a scarf
Bake bread
Chop vegetables
String beads
Sew a costume
Make a pot
Finger-paint
Plant seeds
Weed a garden
Play the tambourine
Cut paper dolls
Hand-write a thank you note
Illustrate a card
Crochet a baby blanket
Fish
Paint someone’s face
Plaster a wall
Hammer nails
Saw or whittle wood
Hand-wash clothes
Scrub a floor
Arrange flowers
Place photos in an album
Build a fire
Flip pancakes
Braid someone’s hair
Pet a dog
Sandpaper a rough surface
Fry matzoh
Dye eggs
Build a fort or a sand castle
Knead bread dough
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