“Hands that make each day begin again
and bring to light
our distant dreams.”
~ The Monks of Weston Priory, Hands
For the written word to reach the legible surface, an idea must be held buoyant from its depths. Then we form our phrases as they are written down. From eternities and immediate reflexes alike, our hands perform the recording in our own language of thought. The individual is unique and potentially a point of original perspective. Stopping to think about it, I recall the whirlwind of sights, sounds, interactions, and imaginings. A certain slant of light returns parallel seasons past. A radio song on a winter night conjures the hot summer day of its first listening. A turn of phrase from a passerby today brings to life bygone words of a departed soul, and today I’ve handwritten the notes to preserve them.
Through mysterious combinations of intuition and urgency, both conscious and subconscious decisions follow the determining of which ideas will be gleaned for exploration. The process continues, even during moments of setting words to paper. It seems that any in-process apprehensions that ensue are due to notions that the initial jottings cannot be changed and recomposed. Of course they can, and that very thought should encourage further writing. Documentation provides a basis for expanding thoughts and aspirations. The written page becomes something of a reflection pool. Human hands miraculously serve as the intermediary instruments between soul and writing implements.
Hands are the finest, most intricate, and amenable of tools. Instruments capable of making instruments. Our hands were created for us; we haven’t made them. I’ve long thought of my own hands as inheritances from my artistic forbears. There isn’t far to look for me to notice the painters, photographers, furniture makers, tailors, and musicians that have preceded me from both sides of my family. At times, my hands remind me of the family members I most closely resemble- and of those I’ve been told I resemble. Those glimpses usually happen when I notice how I draw, or prepare food, or repair books, or handwrite. A few years ago, it occurred to me how my penmanship merges the styles of both my parents equally. My mother had taught me to write, and that made me impervious to absorbing the official writing style taught at school. Gratitude, in this regard, isn’t so much for a peculiar orthography of calligraphic vertical loops and dotted capital I’s, but more about how the letters and their application form an individual’s development.
By cultivating the human touch to concept and action alike, the soul can creatively venture out. Beyond what is crafted by hand, instruments and visual media can become extensions of operating hands, demonstrating an individual’s comprehension. But beginnings are drawn from the transcendent sensed from within. We animate the materials of our creativity and we can reshape them as well. Keeping that in mind, I’ve noticed how creative methods and tools carry their own respective and intrinsic syntax. Remembering how changing cameras affects and alters my interpretations of subject matter, I’ve found the same phenomenon with writing tools. One writer’s hands shaped to craft with different instruments will write a consistent vision from respectively different vantage points. The individual’s touch begins with formulating thoughts, but is made manifest through commanding the various materials of documentation. Not only have I found subtleties between how and what I write in pencil as compared to pen- one being more ephemeral and pressure sensitive than the other- but I’ve even noticed syntactical differences among the various typewriters I use. An awareness of what I consider “orthographic syntax” helps to free my thoughts from writing standstills.
In these pages, I’ve often clarified how instruments are means for creativity and not ends in themselves. Perhaps a similar argument can be made for human hands, if not for all material. Of late, my thoughts often turn to differences between what may be considered “sufficient” versus heights that compel conscience to engage. Fine tools and trained hands are given their justice in their dedication and use. There may even be results. Winter reminds us of life’s course, with short days of longshadowed bright sun. A life of ideas and journeys has barely enough hours for appropriate words.
Let us bring out those enshrined writing implements and set forth the manna of our best ideas. Eat on the holiday-only fine china with the good silverware on a Tuesday morning. This world of “virtual reality” can use some more counteractive and authentic expression of encouragement. Let us not permit the inheritances of our souls and hands to be lost in waves of autocomplete. Retrieve and recultivate your handwriting. Spell and sculpt your own narratives. Type on a manual machine from your shoulder muscles. Imagine visiting a town of prefab drab squared structures filled with hoarded beautiful housebuilding lumber, saws, planes, fixtures, furnishings, and chandeliers. Indeed, it is the Spirit that gives life. How about a show of hands?