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The other day I met a woman with the most beautiful hands I have ever seen. They were slim and long fingered and graceful like a Medieval lady in a tapestry. I have always been envious of those with beautiful hands, particularly since mine are tiny, wide, and stubby fingered. I have ugly, weak fingernails that break easily and cannot be forced into a nice shape. They are, in short – ugly. I don't wear rings because it would be a sin to put a nice ring on one of my fingers and I have no desire to bring any attention to them whatsoever.
When I was young I had a best friend who was tall (something else I envied) and had truly lovely hands. I told her once that I loved her hands and would give anything to have hands like hers. She was oddly incredulous.
“Why would you want my hands?”, she asked. “They can't do anything. You can sew and knit and crochet and draw and paint and fix things. I can't even play the piano well. I would much rather have clever hands like yours.”
I had never thought of it that way. I was good with my hands. The problem was, I saw no earthly reason why they couldn't be clever without being ugly. After all, I got my ugly hands from my mother who couldn't do anything much with them, which proved that hands could be ugly and useless, so why couldn't it work the other way?
It's funny the things we dislike about ourselves that we get fixated on. It is, for the most part, a ridiculous waste of time. Hating being short never made me any taller and nothing I have ever tried to do about my hands ever made them anything but marginally more attractive. Still, we persist in wishing otherwise. It could be said, and rightfully so, that we are way too superficial for our own good, and it would be correct. As a species we make a giant big deal about these things, but we are not alone in the animal kingdom in that regard. All sorts of animals rely on their looks to obtain a mate. The peacock with the best tail usually wins and that's sort of just how it is. On the other hand, I doubt that the peacock sits around wallowing in angst about his tail if he thinks it isn't good enough. Lucky peacock.
Fortunately for him, there are no additions of peacock magazine that he has to look at with digitally altered birds in it with tails that would be impossible for any bird to achieve in real life, and he never has to look at peacock television or go to peacock movies and see how below the standard he is. We, on the other hand, and particularly women, must be confronted with these kind of things all the time just in case we need a reminder that we are woefully below par. The funny thing is that we all know that what we see is far and well removed from what is natural, and yet we still let it get to us. I guess the truth doesn't always set us free.
I have learned, with time, and what I like to optimistically think is a modicum of acquired wisdom, to not worry about my physical deficiencies anymore. Granted, it is a lot easier to do when you are older than when you are young. When you are young, things like that seem vastly more important and even vital to our happiness. The competition for attention is fierce when you are young and the standards are absurd. When you are older no one sees you as competition, which takes the pressure off considerably.
Unfortunately, there are people who suffered so much from feeling inferior when they are young that they carry that anger with them clear into an age where it just shouldn't matter anymore and that sometimes makes for some rather unpleasant personalities. It is too bad, really, since aging is inevitable and all the physical things that go along with it can only be held off for so long. Unless the day comes eventually when we can all download our consciousness into robot bodies, it is what it is. My mother would have taken that option in a heartbeat if it meant that she could live forever. Personally, I have my doubts about anything that drastic. Minds age too, and not always in the best possible way.
I still envy beautiful hands, but I have learned to be content with the ones I have. I can still do clever things with them and I don't suffer from terrible arthritis as do many of my contemporaries. I consider myself very, very fortunate to have the hands I have. It wouldn't do me any good at all if they were lovely but painful or useless.
Counting our blessings is a pretty good idea and a recipe for contentedness with our lot in life. Nobody's perfect, though – I still want to be taller.
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