Her Hands

July 18, 2012
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At first glance, her hands wrote out all the details of her homelessness. Her veins protruded from her thin wrists, and her nails hosted colonies of fungi. Upon further observation, however, I realized the nimbleness of her fingers, bones so fragile that they seemed to be as easily torn apart as the paper she was folding. On the ground beside her stood a sign: “CRANES: $1 EACH. HELP THE WORLD. HELP A CLEAN HOMELESS WOMAN. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.” On each origami model, she wrote one word, the most common being “PEACE” and “LOVE.” She was selling cranes to make a living, no doubt, yet there was something powerful in a homeless woman creating cranes, symbols of hope and global peace.

She seemed to be creasing the world’s evils into beauty and simultaneously crumpling my initial fear and judgment of her into admiration and acceptance. I realized that just as a piece of paper can be pleated and crimped into a crane or a rose, each person shapes the world around him or her. This homeless woman, despite her everyday struggle for existence, was making an effort to better her world, one fold at a time.

I left the woman $20 in her basket, yet she gave me more than I offered her. Origami has become my passion and obsession. Most importantly, I now look at my own hands and realize their potential to affect others positively. Nothing makes me happier than teaching origami at the homeless shelter. Each woman’s hands have a unique story- some are bruised, others are calloused, but most simply lack confidence. I am lucky to have realized that my hands, hands that are still navigating the world to discover who I am and what I want, can always make a difference through origami.

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