I like my hands now. I didn’t always used to. They were never long and dainty like the models’ hands that I saw in dishsoap ads growing up. They weren’t sinewy and powerful like the climber chicks’ I spent years hanging out with, either. They were…hands. Didn’t hide ‘em. Didn’t flash ‘em. Didn’t think they looked really cool with rings on.
Once, I got a manicure and I thought they looked pretty cool, but I was 11, and even then I knew that I wasn’t going to be spending my time getting manicures. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with manicures. But with the things I do every day, a manicure would get messed up pretty quickly.
In any event, during the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing I catch a look at my hands and I think of one thing, and one thing only – my dad.
I really see my dad – who died at the age of 83 in the year 2003 – when I gaze at my hands. My mom used to comment on how she was glad I got his hands. She liked how they weren’t bony, or too rough. He played the acordion and the harmonica. His hands were musical. He wasn’t much of a handyman, but he could hug. Big time.
I’ve been spending the last 3 weeks on the Island of St. Paul in the Pribilofs, a remote archipelago in the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska. I usually scatter some of his ashes when I go someplace cool – someplace where I think he would have liked to have gone with me. He was an older dad and so by the time I had discovered the outdoors, his mobility was decreased by age and cardiovascular disease (or shall I say, 60 years of smoking?) and he couldn’t come with me on many adventures that I would have liked to have brought him on. But I forgot his ashes this time.
Perhaps that I why I finally saw him so vividly in my own body. I had a need to share all this with him on a physical level, and it wasn’t until now – at 39 years old – that I saw how much of him was a part of me. I suppose 50%, to be exact. But I didn’t get it until now.
I smile deeply as I watch the fur seals at their rookeries on St. Paul and think of how he used to marvel at even starfish, gazing at them and running his fingers along their legs.
When I pause to watch the wind waves that form in the tall grasses as they are blown in every which direction, I recall how he used to ask me to pause when I pushed his wheelchair under a grove of old growths in MuirWoods and say, as he gazed up at the suns rays peeping through the branches and took hold of my hand, “This…this is my cathedral.”
As I hang out in the clinic laughing boisterously with my patients in the waiting room, people wondering why I was hanging out there and not in my office, and chatting with teenage girls about their sex lives (in private!) and asking them questions that bring a look of shock to their faces, I remember my dad pretending to be a squirrel in a park once, looking really stupid but making me laugh so hard. He didn’t care what people thought. He just wanted ME to be happy. And that taught me a big lesson early on in the importance of not caring about what people thought of you if it meant compromising your values. That gave me courage to do things that may seem inappropriate or uncomfortable for the greater good.
Living Full On these past few weeks has been a lot about slowing down, breathing, paying attention – to my heart, my head/thoughts, my body, my friends, my partner…the guides that exist in all forms around me.
I’m glad I slowed down enough to look at my hands long enough to recognize my dad in them. I wonder what else I’ve been missing?
Have you noticed anything lately from slowing down? If you’ve been going going going, what do you think you might be glancing over without knowing?
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Freedom Junkie™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting anaverzone.com