There are few people in the world who are truly ambidextrous — my grandfather was one of them — I am not one. After Falling Down the Stairs and injuring my right hand, I was forced to find a new way to grab and hold things using my non-dominant left hand.
I can do Many Amazing Things with both hands in unison, but feeding myself with my left hand only was a particularly interesting learning experience.
Forks are better than spoons. Fingers are better than forks. Teaching my left hand to grab a spoon, scoop up some brown rice and then bring the whole thing to my mouth without spilling any of the golden nuggets was a task not easily learned but immensely enjoyed. Employing my left hand and as my major master was an experience in patience, will and mind-melding on an emotional and intellectual level.
When the rice finally reached my mouth, there was no better reward for the effort. I was reminded of a Deaf friend who — the week before his dominant right arm was crushed in a printing press and amputated below the elbow
— had decided on an impulse to practice signing, writing and eating with his left hand only. He pretended his right arm was paralyzed during his self-inflicted “training period.”
There was an eeriness in his hospital room as he showed off the stump of his right arm and he told us of a “pestering inkling” he had for a week to practice all day, every day, to make his left arm come-to-life as the dominant weapon for communication and as the essential tool for sustenance. He felt he had “been warned” and “given notice” that he would need his left hand more and he was “forced to comply.”
Was my friend’s intuition a message from the future? Was he sensing his predestiny? Was he creating the removal of his right arm by wishing for what he didn’t want?