I always thought when I was a young mother that I should grow an extra arm and hand with each child born, so I could keep hold of the little b*ggers while still having two hands to deal with the essentials of life. How useful would it be to have three hands – how many times have I struggled holding something in my teeth, between my knees, jammed between my body and a kitchen cupboard, or under my arm?
The trouble is, being an introvert and an independent and determined soul, I hate asking for help. I’d rather curse my lack of a useful number of appendages than ask someone to lend me one of theirs. My father once told me that when I was about two, he tried to do something for me, and I snatched the object from his hand and said ‘Me do it.’ It sounds about right.
Being two-handed is surely a basic design flaw – I mean how much more could a person achieve if they had a hand to spare – one for a hammer, one for a nail, and one to scratch that annoying itch on their nose? Think what it would do for productivity. There are certain phrases that spring to mind concerning hands – Give me a hand. Lend a hand. To give one’s hand in marriage. And these sayings should be a clue.
It was yesterday when I went to visit a neighbour who broke her leg badly a few days ago that got me thinking about hands and the ridiculously small number we possess. She’s on a walking frame and so has both her hands occupied, and she’s finding it very frustrating. She can’t carry anything, and she has to do everything one handed because she can’t put one foot to the ground and needs the other hand to hold on to her frame for balance. She was bemoaning the fact that she hadn’t been able to wash her hair since coming home from hospital.
I volunteered to wash it for her for which she was very grateful. Now, she isn’t a really close friend, but it was after this shared experience of washing her hair that I began to see the value of only having two hands. It’s needing an extra helping hand that forms friendships, binds communities, and shows us we are co-dependent in so many ways. Independence is fine, but it can be isolating. My inability to ask for help has doubtless deprived me of social interactions and friendships, and more than that, it has probably deprived those who might have been glad to help of feeling useful and valued. If asked, a lot of people are only too pleased to be able to help. It’s what makes us decent human beings.
So maybe having to struggle and be forced to ask for help is part of the great plan for humanity. Maybe it isn’t a design fault. The sooner we realise that we need one another, be prepared to ask for help, give help in return, and value one another the better the world will be.