I am the type of person who feels better when it appears I’m in control of a situation. When this occurs, I am rarely surprised by what is to come as I am usually the one to make it happen. It’s only when the whole illusion of control is taken away that I feel vulnerable, helpless, and unable to prepare for what’s around the next corner. Many times when something goes wrong, a person can be heard saying, “It’s out of my hands.” Sometimes this is because they feel as if they have done everything they could and are turning things over to a higher power. Other times it gives them the ability to distance themselves from what is happening as it may appear there is no rhyme or reason for what has occurred. I know I have said these words many times when going through infertility treatments. Whether it was the former or latter reason remains to be seen, but it did give me a sense of peace to speak those five little words. So yesterday, while on a run, I found myself pondering just how important our hands are and how there are usually two sides to everything that my hands have held.
Let me start with the basics. My hands have held food. As we all need food to survive, it is a necessary evil for someone like me who can very easily eat the wrong thing or, even worse, overeat. What is a constant struggle for me is that it is not someone else putting this food in my hands nor is it someone else putting the food into my mouth. I am the responsible one. What I eat is COMPLETELY in MY control, yet most of the time I feel out of control when I’m around it. Why is it that if I’m the one holding it that it is what has a hold on me? I can’t not eat, so therein lies the conundrum.
Next we’ll move on to a little more complex topic. My hands have held others’ lives. This may sound a bit dramatic, but this statement is true every time I get behind the wheel of a car…or in my case, Petey. It is my job to make sure that everyone in the vehicle gets from one destination to the next safely and without harm. The idea of being behind the wheel gives me the illusion that I am in control when in fact I am only partly. I have control, for the most part, of how my vehicle is driven as I decide the speed and maneuverability as I navigate my way around. What is completely out of my control, and out of my hands, are the vehicles, objects, and weather around me. I don’t know when someone will get distracted and run a red light. I have no way to know when the tire on the car in front of me will disintegrate and fly in my direction. I have no way to know that at one point in the road I will hit an unseen slick spot because of the rain and begin spinning across the next lane, the median, the oncoming traffic, and wind up on the opposite side from where I began. I can’t expect someone to drive me everywhere and to my knowledge no one has invented that handy-dandy transporter yet, so again I face yet another conundrum.
Lastly, and most importantly, my hands have held another’s heart. This may not be literally, but whether it be a dear friend, a family member, an infant, or a beloved pet, this is by far the most precious item I have been given the responsibility to hold. I’ve been blessed not only to welcome an infant just minutes after taking its first breaths, but I also comforted my sweet dog Button as she took her last. The amazing thing with holding someone’s heart, whether human or not, is that they can simultaneously hold yours. If you are so lucky, it can even be held by multiple people at the same time. What is in our control is whether we choose to nurture or neglect this prized possession. Once we give our heart to someone else, it is out of our hands what they choose to do with it. Remember, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Just because you have given someone your heart doesn’t mean they will cherish it the way you do theirs. After all, we are all the sum of our experiences. If all someone knows is hurt and anguish then it will distort their view of your heart as if they are looking upon it with eyes in need of corrective lenses. From this standpoint, we do have control over one other thing…how we react to how others hold our hearts. Some people will want a loved one to hold on tighter while others would prefer they loosen their grip a little. Whatever the case, it is important to realize that this decision is out of our hands. That is the risk we all take when sharing our hearts with others.
As creatures on Earth, we have been blessed with the sense of touch. Although this is a physical act, it is when we are emotionally touched that we see the impact it has made on our lives. I think of everything I have touched and held thus far and what is yet to come. As I look down at my hands, I acknowledge the role they have played in how I see the world. They have helped build homes and plant trees. They have comforted a friend during a difficult time and made a child giggle while playing peek-a-boo. They have opened doors to greet those who have stopped by for a visit and have closed doors as we have said our good-byes. They have wiped tears of joy and tears of sorrow and have typed and written words to convey to others how I am feeling. I know that I have taken my hands for granted and should be more cognizant of just how important they have been and will continue to be during my life. When I think about what I have learned over the years, I hold on to the fact that the most important sense of all is in knowing that an open mind and an open heart will always come in handy.