Two left thumbs

24 May

I just came in from doing one of my favorite household chores: hanging freshly laundered clothes on the outside line to dry. I love being outside, in the sun, with a gentle breeze in the background.

One thing I like to do when hanging clothes out is to switch which hand I use for tasks I’ve done countless times before. This way the task becomes less of a perfunctory thing to do (as much as I like it) and more of a meditative practice. At least that’s how I experience it. The process of consciously choosing to do something a different way, e.g. reach for the clothespins with my left hand and not my right, is surprisingly challenging to me. Yet, I like it. I believe that when I do this, I am telling myself (brain, body and all the little cells and pathways of decision-making inside of me) that I’m open to trying new things, to looking at a problem or process through a different set of eyes, that I want more options than to be stuck in the same way of doing the same thing over and again.

Oftentimes my dominant side (I’m right-handed) wins out, and I find that I’ve once again defaulted to S.O.P. When I notice that, I can make a decision anew and try again to use my non-dominant side. And, oftentimes, I just use my dominant side because, well, I’m just hanging out the laundry and want to get it done.

But the times, like this morning, when I choose otherwise always make me feel more contemplative and open to possibilities.

Rock on.

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2 Responses to “Two left thumbs”

  1. Kiki May 24, 2008 at 8:04 pm #

    I do the same thing! I’ve read a few articles that said that changing the way you do repetitive tasks (such as taking different routes to work, brushing your teeth in a different order, shopping the grocery store backwards, etc) is very beneficial to your brain health and can actually help protect you against Alzheimer’s and other diseases that involve brain deterioration. For me, it’s a similar experience to what you’re trying to accomplish, but it’s nice to know that there is a practical application as well!

  2. omarsidd May 28, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    Yeah, it’s “good for you” I hear also. Most martial arts, yoga, etc all train you to do everything on both sides, so I started doing that in my personal life a while ago and found that it made me close to ambidextrous. Not completely, I still default to my right hand sometimes, and some things just work a bit better right-handed (handwriting), but it’s nice to know I’ve developed those neural pathways on both sides!

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