Because a life unexamined is lived without intention.
Friday, March 16, 2012
People watching should be categorized as a national pastime. It's frankly more popular than baseball and probably accounts for a significant portion of the economy, as we linger for hours sipping lattes and munching chips while covertly observing the entertainment that is common life. Temper tantrums, love affairs, frustration and joy. Arguments and apologies and accidents. Finding onesself in a shop with a klutzy obsessive compulsive fellow in line behind a hippie with four flower children being waited upon by a German named Helga is like hitting pay dirt--the cacophony of emotional spasms and explicatives sure to be had enthralls me. Years of this stealthy contemplation, however, has illuminated me....and made me slightly paranoid. For I've come to the conclusion that every day, every moment...we are giving ourselves away.
A "tell" in poker is a change in a person's behavior that subtly reveals a shift in the card-esk wind. Learning to read the tells of your comrades during a late round of strip poker may mean the difference between you leaving with dignity...or baring it all. (ahem) Some of the greatest tells, the ones oft ignored, reside within our hands. While we make significant efforts to control our expressions, we rarely realize that everything from the pulse throbbing beneath the translucent flesh of our wrist to the flex of the tendons in our fingers, the closing of a fist, the wiping of a palm....these, my friends, proclaim much.
And it is not just in the moment, that our hands give us away. The state of our hands, our most usedappendage, divulges a great deal about our priorities. I'm not much of a fan of "I don't have time," I feel it is the weakest excuse on the planet. Choosing what you do with your time--that is the issue. And if your hands are sporting peeling polish and jagged nails, you need to take a longer shower tonight. With a glass of wine. Find time for yourself.
What about the secret hands....the "housewife" in sweats at the cafe with the rumpled hair and little one in the stroller. Look closer, see those long tapered fingers tipped with perfect nearly-black-red nails? There's a box under her bed...with a lock on it. The gentleman with the briefcase and the slightly crooked tie? His baby soft, sweaty palms that twitch every time the door opens? Don't ask him to back you up in a fight. That overly plump bank teller who always dresses in pastel colors and has a glittery little ring on every single finger and pats them constantly? She has four cats.....but go easy, she's terribly lonely. My favorite? The well-dressed man with the calloused hands. Have to admit, the harder the palm--the more I shiver. Perhaps it's that ranch life upbringing I had, (or just the texture of them sliding across my skin) but I positively melt at a man who knows hard work.
My eldest son walked in the other day and immediately asked what was wrong. When I inquired why, he responded, "well, you're strangling the dishtowl." The cashier apologized for being slow when he caught me tapping my finger on my wallet, and a total stranger offered me advil when I was seen massaging my achy digits on a miserably damp day. I touch my hair when I'm nervous. And twist my fingers when scared.
In an effort to exude the peace that I am ever-seeking to embody, I have consciously begun to pay attention to my hands. I quiet them when I desire to fidget, relax them when I feel like clenching. Like some kind of phalange yoga, this seems rather powerful as, to my delight, I actually feel calmer. More patient.
The wonder of the reverse.....control the symptom, appease the cause?