The hands are our first point of contact with life, we use them for just about everything we do. They provide our primary means for tactile experience, our physical contact with the world around us, and are as important to our sense of perception as our ears and eyes. As we enter this new age of technology our need to do basic tasks with our hands is rapidly fading and we risk losing the ability to develop highly skilled hands, if we do not put them to their creative, sensual and foundational uses. To make the most of our human experience, we would do well to develop the skill, strength and dexterity of our hands.
For hundreds of thousands of years, the capability of a human to find and forage food; prepare it, make tools, use them effectively, craft jewellery, develop and wield weapons, entice a lover, build a home, and develop a craft, was dependent on the skill and strength of the hands, fingers and wrists. Specially developed hand skills were a necessity for survival and value to the tribe. Early humans left the imprints of their painted hands in caves and on rock walls around the world, showing us that to them, like us, their hands were a way of expressing themselves – “we are people.”
Hands are the ultimate doing tools. They are capable – due to the intricate balance of fingers and thumb, a large amount of muscles, and massive sensitivity – of interacting with life constantly as we go about our day. Recently however, people’s hands have not been required to do as much as they once were due to an increase in automation. For many they are now primarily used to swipe screens, tap keys, hold steering wheels, and put things into their mouths (even toothbrushes now brush for us). If you are not an artisan, craftsman, sportsperson, musician, or agriculturist – by passion or occupation – you may not be required to develop the capability of your hands to any great degree.
When you don’t challenge your body with physically or technically demanding tasks you miss out on a huge part of what it means to be human. You are made for a hands-on life – nature did not spend eons perfecting your appendages for you to waste them swiping away at a screen. In a thousand years from now humans may or may not have screens, they will for sure have hands. Your hands are for gripping, squeezing, caressing, pinching, picking, twisting, holding, tinkering, writing, hugging, comforting and creating. In a world where artificial intelligence will soon do all the menial jobs for you, your little joys may come in the simple practice of essentially human tasks. Hand writing is an art form you can take for granted. If you recall learning to hand write it was tough, my seven year old is currently perfecting it. Keep this skill and your hands alive with writing personal notes or keeping a journal. The practice of writing with pen or pencil is therapeutic and if you want a challenge try writing with your less dominant side, you’ll feel like a child in primary school again.
Remember your hands, how blessed you are to have them, they are a miracle of design.
Walk hand in hand, a uniquely human experience that connects us, love is expressed through touch. Creativity erupts through the fingers and confidence comes through in a firm grip. Hang from the branch of a tree, recall the origins of your hands, and write someone a handwritten note.