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Hands: The Best and Worst of Humanity


Today’s article is a guest post by Josh Hanagarne from World’s Strongest Librarian. Read this post with reflection; it says much more about humanity than may appear at first glance.


“And I held the hands while she died. Those hands that hit me.”

She had come into the library to check out a book on grieving. As she talked about the passing of her mother, she seemed to forget that I was in the room — or that the room existed at all.

In that one sentence I heard the best and the worst of humanity — all reflected in these amazing tools hanging from the ends of our arms.

She may never think of me again, but I will never forget her.

Things you can do with your hands:

1. Caress a lover

2. Brush hair out of your eyes

3. Tousle someone’s hair

4. Pull someone’s hair

5. Thumbs up

6. Thumbs down

7. Give the bird

8. Bend nails

9. Hold a pen

10. Write a love letter

11. Write hate mail

12. Type

13. Paper football

14. Sign language

15. Pick nose

16. Flip a coin

17. Wave hello

18. Wave good bye

19. Encircle someone’s waist

20. Encircle someone’s throat

21. High five

22. Glad hand

23. Make a fist

24. The peace sign

25. Use that fist

26. Hold onto a kettlebell

27. Wear a wedding ring

28. Remove a wedding ring

29. Pray

30. Karate chop!

31. Paint

32. Air guitar

33. Real guitar

34. Give a massage

35. Steer a car

36. Fly a plane

37. That pen twirl thing that everyone does in meetings. I first saw it in Top Gun

38. Shadow puppets

39. Tie balloon animals

40. “Live long and prosper”

41. Tie knots

42. Cat’s cradle

43. Hold a cigarette

44. Drum on your table

45. Test the direction of the wind

46. Push glasses back onto your nose

47. Plug your ears when Celine Dion comes creeping around

48. Pull a trigger

49. Stir the pot

50. Crack your knuckles

51. Pinch that spot above someone’s knee that really makes them squirm

52. Tickle

53. Jazz hands

54. Tear the pages from a book

55. Left click

56. Right click

57. Make a snowball

58. Knead dough

59. Count money

60. Text messages

61. Keep a journal

62. Write a letter

63. Dribble a basketball

64. Shake a bottle of mustard to get the rest out

65. Flick a lighter

66. Pick an apple

67. Throw stones

68. Skip stones

69. Support yourself on a banister

70. Hold onto a kite

71. Dial a phone number

72. Call in a bomb threat

73. Eye gouge

74. Pinch

75. Twirl a baton

76. Conduct a symphony

77. Change a tire

78. Cut the brake cables

79. Floss

80. Drill a tooth

81. Turn a page

82. Fold down the corner

83. Fold a paper airplane

84. Roll a joint

85. Put in a contact lens

86. Turn up the volume

87. Tie a neck tie

88. Snip your sister’s earlobe with a pair of children’s scissors (it was my brother, not me)

89. Break the wishbone

90. Five finger exploding heart technique (or so I’ve heard)

91. Play jacks

92. Open the pickle jar

Let’s see…there have to be a few thousand that I missed…

What say you?


Photo by apdk

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Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) September 14, 2009 at 4:00 am

mark another

accept another

Positively Present September 14, 2009 at 5:54 am

Great list! I love the way you did a negative/positive spin on it… Awesome!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..words to live by: send it on =-.

Jay Schryer September 14, 2009 at 6:50 am

This is such a great post. A powerful reminder that our hands are an extension of ourselves, and as such, can be powerful tools for spreading either love or fear.

Josh Hanagarne September 14, 2009 at 7:16 am

@Char: brilliant.

@Positively Present: it was initally all going to be positive. But that only worked as long as I didn’t think too hard. Thanks for the kind words.

@Jay: I should have made “write Porsidan” number one on the list!
.-= Josh Hanagarne´s last blog ..Poll: What Was Your Worst Day At Work? =-.

David September 14, 2009 at 7:27 am

Just wanted to thank you for another excellent post Josh. I’m off to use my appendages for the forces of good.

Lance September 14, 2009 at 7:55 am

What a great guest post you have up here today.

This is quickly reminding me that our hands have much power in them. Power to do good or do bad. And as I think about this, and what it means to the lives of others I touch – today I choose to be more conscious of how I use my hands, and the good they are fully capable of doing…
.-= Lance´s last blog ..Sunday Thought For The Day =-.

Srinivas Rao September 14, 2009 at 10:36 am

A very interesting list and very insightful given such a simple experience that you had.
.-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..The power of being present =-.

Josh Hangarne September 14, 2009 at 8:03 pm

@David: I’m sure you spent the day writing wrongs. Glad I could inspire you!

@Lance: Yep. Like most things, there are positive and destructive forces in something as commonplace as our hands.

@Srinivas: I’m trying to pay attention to the small things that happen. Everything has meaning. I find that often I miss out by moving too fast and not focusing on the lesson that I can get out of the smallest incident. Thanks.
.-= Josh Hangarne´s last blog ..Poll: What Was Your Worst Day At Work? =-.

prayerthegate September 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm

What a great post. We all hold the future in our hands. What will it look like? It depends on what we think and do. Beautiful. Thanks
.-= prayerthegate´s last blog ..This Present Moment =-.

Walter September 15, 2009 at 12:14 am

The best thing our hands can do is to lend it to others; there’s nothing more noble this. :-)

Greg September 15, 2009 at 8:12 am

Human touch can confer intimacy, sadness, love, anger, distraction, and the list goes on. We, as people, crave the touch of others. It’s part of what makes us human.

Ian | Quantum Learning September 15, 2009 at 8:58 am

Wonderful reminder of the power we all hold … literally in our hands. I’m typing this with much greater consciousness of that power.
.-= Ian | Quantum Learning´s last blog ..You make a difference =-.

David September 15, 2009 at 9:59 am

All day yesterday I was hyper-aware of what my hands were doing, and what ends they were serving. They’re almost always right there in your field of view.

Lori September 16, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for hosting Josh today. Great pick! (Sorry I’m late to the party again.)

Thanks for your insights here today. You constantly amaze me with your ability to craft spellbinding posts from intrepid observation. Cheers!

greg cryns September 21, 2009 at 7:45 am

Nice list.

How about: flip the bird to that driver of the Hummer who cut you off in traffic, or do a yoyo fabulous trick, and, of course, open a beer. ;)

Jessica Marie September 21, 2009 at 11:59 pm

What about type? As usual, great blog entry Josh.
.-= Jessica Marie´s last blog ..Ring #2 =-.

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