‘Look!’, said my 12 year old daughter excitedly and showing me her absolutely FILTHY hands. ‘This is the journey of my day!’.
She then proceeded to use all the pen marks, smudges, ink splotches and grub on her hands to explain her day to me. The ups, the downs, the in betweens. Each event leaving its mark behind.
On the one hand (pun intended), my initial thought, as her mother, was that clearly this journey hadn’t involved soap and a sink at any point. On the other hand (pun still intended) I reflected upon how excited she had been and I think I understood why. She saw it as an analogy of her day, the perfect visual representation; through which she could tell her story.
After all, what a great metaphor for life – work life, home life, social life – it was all there.
We go through the day casually collecting these marks from small events that happen to us – maybe at the hands of others or perhaps we created them with our own hands, not always realizing we often share the same marks with others around us.
How often do we try to wash away those marks before we’ve really had time to stop and take a longer look at the accumulation of flotsam and jetsam of life we have caught that day; that month; that year? To try to see the connections, not just on our own hands but also on that of others? To see the journey in its current fullness and present totality.
If we were to stop a moment and ask ourselves what these hands have done, where they have been, what they have achieved and whose hands they held along the way what could we find? If we were to follow every little step along the winding path, which led to the marks we see today, just what else might we see?
I venture we would see on everyone’s hands some good marks and some bad marks; and everywhere in between. Would we see the causality of it all? Would those connections that lay hidden or defied meaning at the time now become startlingly clear? Would we notice how many times others have offered us their hand to join us, even if only for a little while, on our journey? Would we note, with regret, the times we hadn’t stretched out our hand to others – either to help them or to ask for help for our self?
Maybe we’d know which paths we don’t want to go down again and recognize the warning signs ahead, enabling us to take a detour around or over next time. Would we know how to forge those pleasant paths we’ve taken before and learn how to wend it to avoid the rocks we come across?
Perhaps we would see how shared and interconnected our journey is. In seeing our past, in making these connections; only then can we truly wash our hands of these marks and have the vision to imagine what our hands could look like tomorrow.
Take a good look at your hands – because what you choose to do with them is your future.