To grasp means two things:
1. To come to understand a concept, like a light clicking on, like puzzle pieces interlacing, like finding something out.
2. To hold something physically, curling your hand around it, feeling it in your palm, interlacing fingers together with an object at the center.
The conflation between mental acuity and your two hands holds great symbolic meaning for me. In the way I love minds, I love hands. As you analyze a passage, you drum your fingers. While sorting out a problem, you rub your palms. You use your sense of touch as a method of better examining an object, twirling it between your pointer and thumb, getting a sense of its complexity. We use our hands to explore life, probing the landscape. Hands are our mediators between our world and our brains.
Because you use your hands as the primary method of physically—and by extension, mentally and emotionally—interacting with the world, they collect truths about you. Calluses from climbing, scrapes from a cat, paper-cuts from sorting through books, burns from clumsiness, nails clipped short for work, kept long and painted out of vanity, or bitten due to anxiety—your hands reflect so many aspects of your personality, your interests, your sense of self.
We use our hands to communicate with one another, gesturing emphatically when we get excited or mapping out a plan with a cohort. We use them to touch one another, and we seek or give out comfort through these touches. We touch people because we love them, grab them roughly when irritated, hit because we are enraged. Hands relay to others our feelings and ideas.
Hands are fascinating and beautiful and give us an advantage in the world not only because of their remarkable dexterity but because they allow our curiosities to take form: our minds would be far less effective without hands to carry out our ideas.
Your hands are an extension of your selfhood. And grasping that is an magnificent thing.
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Sometimes I’m struck by how absolutely gorgeous non-Latin lettering is: it goes beyond arbitrary signifier/signified relationships and is developed from actual meaning within representative symbols that have transitioned over years to become a series of complex signifiers.