From the Tips of Your Fingers

June 20, 2008
My brother's hands are a cold-blooded killer's. Meaty, thick, and calloused they are, from beatings and fights - most of them lacrosse as far as I know. His hands are as the rough mountain trail, beaten from rocky rebellion into smooth submission; his hands have a mind all their own, each reaction and movement a step ahead of all he can think. But do his hands show the person that he is? Coarse, calloused, crooked? Only when he is boiled down to himself, only when his quick, violent, fingers are out of the reach of his mind do they strike out like a cracking whip; but as a whip, they always come back to the true person within. So with every blow thrown or every physics problem finished, my brother’s hands represent his true person inside.

And these hands of mine are as toughened as those, but mine the callous of the weary artist, blisters forming anew with each stroke of the brush on a difficult painting. But my painting is music, my paint a guitar, and my brush a string. And my jittery, arthritic hands come not from hurting others, but from night after endless night putting who I am into words and notes and chords. Again and again and over and over I play the coarse, rough strings that somehow transfer to my fingers. They give me their rough, sharp edges, and their metal-wound outsides, strong as the skin on my fingertips. And as my fingers move they learn as well, and each song becomes a thought of their own So my hands, too are simply an extension of what I am. And I think that your hands, the tips of your fingers prove that no matter how far you try to reach away from yourself, you cannot change who you are.

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