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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Callous Hands and Loss

It has been about seven months since I found the wound on my hip. I never dreamed I would still be dealing with the wound all these months later. I hate wound care and changing my dressing. It is a daily reminder of how fragile the paralyzed human body can be. I am also appalled by all what I have missed. My life since last September has been like a black hole. I missed the Fall harvest. I missed teaching a full academic year. I missed an awesome winter and did not ski once. Seven months is along time. I can now see that my body has changed. I am not better for this experience nor is my body stronger. I know my strength will come back once I am able to sit up all day and resume my regular activities. I am sure I will be kayaking at some point—surely before the end of the summer. This prospect excites me.

Since I can get up more today, a warm sunny Easter Sunday, I went for a walk with my son around my property. Yikes, I have my work cut out for me. My vegetable garden is a mess. Last Fall I did not clear it out. My garden beds around my home are a mess. The deer have had a field day. I have a tree down that I need to cut up with a chain saw and then split up the wood for the wood-burning stove. My head is spinning with all that needs to be done. This does not bother me—I love manual labor. It clears the mind and strengthens the body. It was not until I was inside and my son engrossed on-line that I had a strange sense of loss. I looked at my hands carefully and was stunned to realize my callous hands are smooth. My hands have not been callous free in thirty years. My hands have felt like like shoe leather for decades. I am both proud and embarrassed by this. I tell people with hands like mine no one pushes me around. This is both literal and figurative. My hands are like those of a man who has performed manual labor his entire life. In short, I have ditch digger hands. I am extremely self-conscious about my rough hands. They are rough and hard—an occupational hazard. No way to get around this. A solution does not exist—not that I want or am seeking a solution. Amazingly I am sad to be without my calloused rough hands. I am stunned I miss my callous hands. I have always tried to hide my hands from women. Surely a woman wants a man’s hands to not feel so hard and calloused. How ironic. I was not happy with calloused hands and now I am not happy with callous free hands. For the first time in my life, I want my calloused hands. It was not until today I realized being self-conscious was misplaced. My calloused hands are a symbol of an active life. A life I hope to get back to very soon.


Becs said...

Also makes it much easier to play the guitar when your callouses are built up on the finger tips.

Ruth Madison said...

I've always admired rough, calloused hands on men for the same reason you said, because it shows a fierce engagement with life.

william Peace said...

Becs, Good point. Too bad I have no musical ability whatsoever!
Ruth, Ooh, that is music to my ears. I always thought callous hands would be a major turn off for women. Gosh, men can be so stupid!

Becs said...

Yup. It's kind of creepy to run into a guy whose hands are softer than mine. The one instance that most readily springs to mind is shaking hands - very, very gently - with pianist Bruce Hornsby.

Rachel said...

Oh, yes, I really respect calloused hands -- and feet, if a person gets around on them. My husband has both from years of splitting and stacking wood, shoveling manure, gardening, fixing fences, and taking care of farm animals.

And I adore him. :-)

william Peace said...

Rachel, Your comments are great for my fragile male ego!

Cait the Wild Guitar said...

Callous? You, Bill? Au Contraire! I have found you to be one of the most sensitive, caring, & considerate people it has ever been my privilege to know.
I must agree with Becs- it is much easier to play guitar with callused fingertips, because I find that calluses enhance my grip on the strings.
Bill, I find it nearly impossible to believe that you have no musical talent. Most people have some sort of musical ability- we just need to find yours. Have you ever thought about playing the electric guitar? It is a wondrous & beautiful instrument that gets along with many people, & requires little technical work. The main thing the electric guitar requires is inspiration. Great guitarists are born, not made.
Being a creative person, which you can't deny that you are, it is likely that you have some talent that could be directed towards playing the guitar. If you think that you can't play guitar, maybe you just haven't met the right guitar yet. Size 8 shoes don't fit everybody, but you haven't given up wearing shoes just because a size 8 doesn't fit you. Guitars are a lot like shoes in this way- there are as many different sizes & configurations of guitars as there are sizes of shoes. Just like shoes, one size doesn't fit all. Different people need different guitars of different configurations, sizes, & shapes. Until you find the guitar that fits your hands, your style, & your needs, you will never know if you're a good musician or not.
My picture shows my custom made Les Paul '57 Psychedelic Sunburst. It's the perfect guitar for me, & the neck is specifically tailored for the small size & shape of my hands. I never knew how good a guitarist I truly was until I played this guitar.
Don't count yourself out until you know you've found the right guitar & given it at least 5 years of your life. By the way, I can answer any questions you might have on finding the right guitar.

Ruth Madison said...

Glad I'm not the only one who appreciates manly hands!