What am I supposed to do with my hands? I put this forward as a real question.
I watch people’s hands. It is a ritual, and an intentional use of observational sight. The movements illuminate the thoughts of the mover. These actions which I watch incessantly in others become unknowable when faced with my own limbs. I am, regardless of situation, unsure of where to place my hands, or how to satisfy their restlessness.
I remember vividly my attending a theatre camp at age ten during which the instructor said, “Walk, with your hands to your sides. It feels strange, right? Now, watch this person walking with their hands at their sides. It looks like a natural behavior. When you see someone holding their arms, relaxed, to either side of their torso, it looks perfectly normal.” It was in that moment that I noticed the tendency of my own arms and hands to constantly be in motion. They spring up and fold and bend and stretch and twitch. They are desirous of a pattern, a pen, a situation in which they can twiddle and create and take in and move across a surface.
A lot is asked of hands. During the day they are expected to be the interface and vehicle for books and oranges and forks and steering wheels and shoulders and doorknobs. They are asked to aid with articulation of a thought, or provide support by pressing into a wall or a stretch of grass. In the evening, hands can be found slinging cigarettes or beer cans or clasping other hands or a bit of paper. Later in the night, hands are asked to caress the thigh of the lover, or perhaps encircle a mug, and then, eventually, they are asked to cease their movement. Even as I begin sleep, my hands are unaware of the expectation of stillness. They must cling to the comforter or tap the bed frame or run in tight circles over one another. Why the incessant movement? Are my hands not satisfied with the climbing and the creation and the subtleties of texture? Is it not enough to be grasping the world?