Saturday, November 05, 2011

ARTICLE ~ I Let Go - No 7


Should I start by thanking my hands? I suppose I should, but not in a polite round of applause thoroughly English way. That might seem a trifle formal, if not patronising attitude to take towards them. It's certainly inadequate considering what they can do, what they have done, and what they still continue doing. They're vastly underrated, consistently overlooked and taken for granted. My hands have served me well. I'm seeing this now, when perhaps it's getting too late, in an evening that has no discernible moonlight. For there are times when my fine hands can't do exactly what I want them to, or can't do things quite as well as formerly, or as I'd presently like. I have this sense of being a passive observer as my body slowly slowly loses its treasured faculties. This is hard to see as ennobling. For in truth they weren't that treasured until they started betraying signs of being impermanent things. Hands can fail to function. Then they become treasured. One must have appreciated and loved, before one can allow these things to pass, and let ones affection go.

So, there is a premonition of their future theft. As though my hands have become these warning oracles. the lines and mounts of palmistry telling my fortune. The feeling of being prematurely bereft is humbling. One is belittled by bereavement. Ought one to bow down out of respect? Should ones heart be swollen with feelings of gratitude? Sorry to hear your leaving, but thanks a million anyway! It's difficult in the midst of a predicted loss, to feel anything other than existentially betrayed, buggered or baying for blood to be spilt. Life should be made to pay for this, or make reparations.
Meanwhile, I still bear on the ends of my arms these ten digits. Fingers and thumbs pivoting on wrists until the bitter end. From these I shall not part, until I too will bereave someone I love. Their warm hands will touch the wintry coldness of my face, and know I am gone, that I am lost to them. No hands could shake me awake from this sleep. When I have relinquished up the flesh and the bones of being loved. Hands will lower me into the ground of my resting place, or push my coffin into the furious heat of a cremation oven. Handkerchiefs will soak up the tears, muffle the sobs and grip tightly the hands of bystanders. They might even wave me off.
Hands can be loving, have a smoothing calming effect on the troubled surfaces of experience. They break through invisible hurts, divorces or barriers. The empty spaces that can emerges between bodies. Hands physically connect with what has become isolated by touching the skin of me, by touching the skins of them. Yes them, the bright haired handymen and women walking the same grey streets, travelling the same road, on the same train, the same bus as me. Imagine embracing them all, in one nocturnal handshake. Hands pressed together in greeting, in collective prayer or supplication. Faithfully devoted. Kissing hands, bottom hugging hands, the entwined clasping of hands that are in love. A light brush down a lovers back, a feathery stroke outlining a silken face, fingers drift sketchily along lips, hands pressing a ruffle across a chest. These are some of the tasks that hands do for me, that bring me pleasure, besides - the raising of a refreshing cup of coffee - the drawing of a line across a piece of paper - the waving to friends across the street – they help me swim.
I cannot speak or enumerate the full range of their qualities. The attributes they bring, enable me to sculpt the world I want to live and love in. Impossible without their ability to actively grasp, hold, form, twist, whip, lunge, catch, throw, break, bow, turn, throw, drop, swing, swim, whirl, pull, drag, lift, bend, or hang. The padding, the petting, the patting, the paddling, the laying on of hands. An immensely courageous kindness of hand and heart, is the caressing back rub that is empathic and compassionate.
Thumb and forefinger have held paintbrushes for me, with just enough of a pinch. Not too much so it would snap, or too little so it would slip between my fingers. They direct the paint filled mop head in smooth washes and swathes across the surfaces of walls, doors, paper, canvas and floors. Hands have maintained for me a lifetime of too many creative flourishes to mention. They've painted out an idea, an approximate representation of who I believe I am. Who I would, like, love, wish, even will myself into being. This is what I portray by portraying. The spontaneous surface of artistry disguises the innate skill required for its execution. I've spent a whole lifetime in pursuit of an elusive goal. Riding on the back of this-then-that artistic rocking horse. Backing the entirely wrong horse, or thrown from the saddle of bucking broncos. Sometimes hands have to take the reins, the strain, and the pain.
They've taken me far, and yet not far enough for my liking or my racing desire. Hands have done my bidding, but nothing to permanently satisfy the hungry jaws of a half empty pit. I carry projects loyally in my minds eye, in a richly coloured portfolio. Much more comprehensive and better executed than the actual ones were, or will be. These are all mind made hand-me-downs kept in a reserve bottom draw. Designs I'll never get round to resolving or bringing to a conclusion. These ideas can stay pristine, unsullied and clean of poor execution, the unimagined obstacles, the compromised or even the lack of opportunity to bring them to fruition. No way to bring them about now, to expose them to the unflinching light of day or the distorted florescence of the night, or nightmare. These things fade.

Talented hands have nevertheless externalised something of what I imagined. Tried to express essentially the inexpressible. To breathe something alive onto a lifeless parchment. Birth as always is an exciting event, painful and a bit of a struggle. A wrestling match between the idea and the limits of my ability. Ending in an expression, an emission, a submission to history however impoverished or small. Creation is a fleeting temporary high, followed by the melodrama of the withdrawal symptoms. However, its always been disappointment that spurred me on to the next 'big thing.' The skill of my hands is in executing flexibly. To get the vision out of the way of the handiwork. I just observe the flustered birds of confidence, the febrile nature of frustration, and I shrug. Palms outstretch expectantly. Palms cupped like petals around a calyx hope to catch some divine nectar. I've drunk from that cup. A vessel that my hands created out of nothing.
Hands can be actors too, they've performed like shadow puppets behind a large screen. Hand gestures have played their part in producing a character, a likable comedy, a black and white version of reality. Blocked out, a stage movement of hands upstage will prompt the dialogue and the expression of the faked emotion. I learnt to portray a love, weakness or power that I do not possess. To be a person I am not, or am only in a theatrical dimension. I have mimed the making of miracles using these hands. I've loved every false hand movement, until I tired of the verisimilitude. My dissembling stumbled in the reciting of other peoples words. Though they were not my words, I sneaked my feelings in through the back door. Through my vocal intonation and the loaned language of my body. Simultaneously shielding and picking at my own sores for raw material, which was handy. Eventually my hands would write and perform their own words.
My hands could also slap out a big beat. Tap on the tables and floors, para diddle upon my thighs. They held my pint, tipped the pint into my mouth, or drunkenly spilt it on the floor. I put down my pint only so I could dance. To pogo like a demented pile-driver let loose across the floors and foil clad walls of Seventies discotheques. They flapped around wildly on the end of my arms. Like the ineffective wings of gosling's in a first attempt at flight. Hands Charleston, hokey cokey and jived, dragging the rest of my bending body with them. Surrendering to the hearts beat, its blood throbbing compulsive thrust. The intoxicating rhythm amplified my life's pulse. Whether the dance floor was in my bedsit, the disco or the concert hall. I clapped hands hard together as though I was experienced in flamenco Both my hands should be applauding loudly a life that has been, and is still being well lived. If they are not, its because they're busy nursing themselves, rubbing Ibuprofen Gel into inflamed thumb joints.

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