17 October 2000
My hands are a mess. I became very aware of that tonight when David was showing me the proper stance for willow branches blowing in the wind. He was supporting my hands on his and I kept thinking how terrible my hands look. Ragged nails... rough, torn cuticles... torn up thumbs...
Perhaps he didn't notice. But I did. I was embarassed.
Until five weeks ago I kept my nails. They were just long enough to look nice, and they were polished a pleasant shade of green. My hands looked... elegant, I think. I always got complements.
I began keeping my nails six years ago. I had never done so before in my life, but I was planning on going to the annual Theatre Banquet at RIC, and I knew I was going to want to really dress up for the occasion, and I had time to grow them, so I did. And I painted them Chinese Red. And then, afterwards, for some reason I can't explain, I just kept the nails. I took the time necessary to care for them, and keep them. And they never troubled me, nor interfered with work or play-- except it's very hard to pat a pie crust into a small shell without poking holes in it. I did all the things I had always done. I used my hands as I had always done, and never worried about my nails. Oh, I broke them from time to time-- how could I not, working as I do at the orchard and around the house? But I learned to repair them, and I kept them looking nice.
For the first two years, I kept the nails, always, Chinese Red. Then, for the next four years I kept them, always, shades of green. I like green. And people have come to expect to know me by my green nails. And, as I say, most people seemed to like them.
But six weeks ago, someone was looking at my hands, and I detected what seemed to be a look of disparagement. And I began to wonder. I looked at my hands and thought, Are these my hands? And I didn't know.
I chopped the nails off short. I removed every speck of green polish. My hands looked very plain.
And now they look all torn up because I've fallen back into the old nervous habit of picking at the cuticles. And I'm bleeding on things again.
I liked the distinction of the green nails, the elegance. But now that I've begun the Reiki, I'm thinking that perhaps plain nails will be best. And plain would be better for playing piano and guitar, too...
I wonder if I can find a way to keep from tearing at my hands. I wonder if I can keep my plain hands looking nice.
The floor in the cafetorium at Levy School creaks. That's where we have t'ai chi lessons now. I noticed it last week. We were all practicing the basic "walk," which requires a rhythmic rocking and shifting of weight from one foot to the other as you go. The whole class was practicing, rocking back and forth to the same rhythm, when I noticed that the floor was creaking with us. It sounded like we were on a ship. I didn't say anything, but I wondered if anyone else noticed it. Then last night, we were doing the walk again, and after a bit, David, the instructor, said, "It sounds like we're on a ship, doesn't it?" Yes, it does. It's kinda neat. (I just hope the floor isn't going to collapse under us.)
The light in the cafetorium is a bit odd, too. I suppose it's a bit inadequate; there are lots of shadows. It wasn't designed for use at night, I guess. Still, I think I prefer that to a harsh daylight glare. At least for t'ai chi practice.
Anyway, at the end of the lesson, we were all in a circle doing QiGong to cool down, and David noticed something else that was very neat. In one exercise, you raise your hands, palms up, fingertips almost touching, in front of you to shoulder height, gathering the chi, then you press you hands outwards to the sides and then lower them and repeat the circle upwards. In another exercise, you raise raise your hands out to your sides, palms down (the chi from the earth is pressing them upwards), and then when your hands reach shoulder height, you turn your palms upwards and press your hands together gathering the heavenly chi and combining it with the earthly chi, and you press it together between your palms and deliver it to your Tantien (pronounced "donchen") which is below your navel, and then you repeat the circle, lifting your arms... It's all very rhythmic, very relaxing... graceful.
As I say, we were all in a circle, raising and lowering our arms rhythmically in the exercise, when David said, "If you look into the corners of the room, the shadows we're making look like a lotus flower blooming." And so they did.
It's nice to know someone else is noticing things, too, and sharing it--
Rats. I suppose it's too much to hope that he didn't notice my hands.
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