clapping with one hand

Juniper recently discovered her hands and she now studies them intently. She often moves her hand through the air slowly, catches it in her peripheral and then fixes her eyes on it, concentrating carefully. In these moments, I see her connecting her internal world to the physical world. I see her turning the flesh, the bone and the blood in her tiny hands into something more than what most people can see. She sees her own hands differently, she sees the world differently - and I think this is partly because she spends more time with things, she notices things, and therefore understands things more than most of us. Juniper let’s go of the noise around her to connect with the true source of sound.

I find myself studying my own hands now, occasionally. I look down at my jagged fingernails, which have been mangled by the pins and needles of anxiety. The leftover scraps of dirt, blood and paint bending into small, shadowy serrated sickles. The contrasting cuticles cranking out new keratin on the conveyor belt. I look at the many wrinkles that have been carved out by time. The scars from planting trees, building things, burning myself on stove tops, slingshotting a pencil into my hand when I was a kid. The faint blue color of blood in my veins mapping movement into my fingertips. My palms folding out into a field day for fortune-tellers: The lines of the heart, the head, the life and the fate winding, weaving, curving and crossing paths.

I, myself, I can see the future in my hands. I see more dirt in my nails from planting in the garden with Laurel and June; from teaching them how to grow flowers and vegetables, from showing them tiny ways to make the world more beautiful and sustainable. I see more paint in my fingernails from painting; from brushing oils, acrylics and watercolors onto canvas with my little girls, from teaching them how to create new little worlds to live in. I see more blood in my fingernails from working my fingers to the bone; from sitting at a desk for days and days and from standing up for my girls, from doing everything I can to break the backs of the beasts that burden us. 

I can see my fingertips swollen from committing the crimes of the creatives, from dog-earing pages and from spending too much time in tubs. I can see scars forming and fading as I build toys, tepees and tree houses. I can see new wrinkles rising and sinking into my skin as time moves on. I can see my veins and the maps they make for us move into my fingertips, to point my girls into the best directions I will know of. The heart, the head, the life, the fate in my palms connecting with Laurel and June as we hold hands. As we hold the hands that we've studied all along, the hands that tell our stories.

There is something else we must think of, as we study our hands. There is a Zen saying that has always meant a lot to me: "To hear the sound of one hand clapping." Shunryu Suzuki, a Sōtō Zen monk, elaborated on this concept: "If you clap with two hands, you can hear the sound. But if sound did not already exist before you clapped, you could not make the sound. Before you make it there is sound. Because there is sound, you can make it, and you can hear it. Sound is everywhere." So, you can make sound by holding out one hand, because sound is already there. You can clap with one hand.

June and Laurel, when you hold your hand out in front of you, you must know that you are creating a sound that the universe has given to you, a sound that the universe can hear. When you hold your hand out, and you are clapping with one hand, don't try to listen for the sound, because it is already there. If, if, if you do not speak verbal language I am capable of understanding in the future June, I will still know when you are speaking to me. When you look into my eyes, when you move your mouth to respond to me speaking to you, when you hold out your hand and study it intensely, you are speaking to me.

Girls, the universe will document your story and give it to you to revisit in many ways. It will give you many things to learn from. It will give you everything you need and all you have to do is notice it. Hold out your hand. It is right there in front of you.