Monday, August 13, 2007

Are you left-handed or right-handed or in between?

Reading His Book in the Car
Originally uploaded by katzeye.
Seeing as it's left-handers' day today, I thought I would pose that question.

I was told that I was ambidextrous when I was a kid. This doesn't surprise me for a number of reasons.

One is that my eldest son was that way, too, until mid-childhood.

Another is that when I've had physicals, they note and tell me that I have equal strength on both sides of my body, which is very unusual, and then they usually ask if I am ambidextrous.

I thought I had been left-handed. I surfed and skateboarded goofy foot.

I remember being in around 3rd grade when I decided that I no longer wanted to write left-handed. The reason was that the desks slanted the wrong way for lefties. Also, I was tired of smearing ink and getting dents in my hand from the metal spirals in the middle of the notebook. I went home and practiced my right-handed penmanship for many nights until it got to be comfortable.

I just forgot to change everything else.

I bowled, ironed, ate, used a mouse, knitted, caught, and carried left-handed. I even drew left-handed.

When I had a college ceramics class, and being about 98 lbs. at the time, and always slipping off the kick wheel, the professor took pity on me and put me on an electric wheel. But then all my pots kept falling.

He decided to watch me to see what I was doing wrong. What I was doing wrong was that I was throwing my pots left-handed! I had no idea that there was a right- or left-handed way to throw pots. I think my left hand was inside the pot, shaping it, and the right hand was outside the pot. He said it would never work because I was on a right-handed wheel.

A right-handed wheel? So potters' wheels spin in a particular direction depending on whether you are throwing your pots left-handed or right?

What a through-the-looking glass world I had fallen into!

I had to be moved from throwing pots to simply building them, even with all that practice (until my fingers were bloody!).

Since then, I have had only a few issues, like when trying to iron something, and keeping the cord out of the way, or eating next to a right-handed person.

It can be confusing, because I have become right handed at teeth brushing for instance, but when someone throws a ball to me, I can't be sure which hand will catch it. It's a toss up.

Once, in HS, I was wearing a mitt on my right hand, and caught a high fly ball with my bare left hand. That stung for a very long time. After that, I tried to get the mitt marked with an "L."

Some say that lefties are more creative. On creativity tests I score off the charts. But I can't help but wonder if I might be more productively creative if I could choose one side or the other.

I have discovered one thing, though. I have a terrible time sitting through a meeting or a class. I get restless, my mind wanders every two seconds, and I just want to get up and move. I learned a long time ago that if I knit (left-handed), I can endure holding still longer, and I can hear what is being said better.

Now I've discovered that if I doodle and write left-handed while sitting in a meeting or a class, I can concentrate on what is being said better. I am not sure why this is, but it works for me.

At least, maybe it will work until I become reconverted to proficiently writing left-handed.

After that, I may need to try doodling and writing right handed.


Anonymous said...

you do realise don't you that it is highly unusual to be able to switch on purpose as a child and also it is unusual to be that kind of ambidextrus. is there anything you can do equally well with either hand?

I, like most people, was born right-handed and bascially my left hand is useless.

Anonymous said...

One of the quickest ways to develop both hands is playing guitar. In order to hear anything decent both hands have to perform. The left hand has to not only be in sync with what the right hand is doing but comes down to having each finger on the left hand needing to be extremely coordinated to match the plucking done with right. Add finger picking to the right and basically all fingers on both hands must be coordinated with different movements yet touching the strings simultaneously. By practicing scales with both hands each becomes trained, but interestingly you can't transpose to playing guitar left handed, everything is reversed and upside down, so you still wind up being either right handed or left handed. To me the left hand requires far more coordination than the right if you are a right handed guitar player.

kc petersen said...

I have learned since that it is not that easy to switch, but my recollection is that I was highly motivated. I can pretty much eat equally well with both hands and doodle. (And walk and talk). Most people I know have useless left hands. Imagine the evolution of that, further down, as left hands shrink and become little flippers and then disappear altogether!

kc petersen said...

anon, the second:

I have had guitar lessons, and while the many things you say there are things that I honestly did think about a great deal (and often wondered about right-handed guitarists with their very coordinated left hands doing all the work), nevertheless, I had a different kind of hand problem when it came to guitar playing. That is to say that I was only able to get to the basic chords and then I was history as the size of my hands (being essentially the size of a ten year old's) prohibited me from any further practice, even with motivation. But that is fodder for another blog entry.