Friday, 18 March 2011

Knowledge-worker hands

One of the things that revision time always gives me is time to reflect. Nominally, I'm sat on my bed looking through powerpoint presentations, or reading old notes, trying to condense pages of information into bullet points so that I can remember and regurgitate it on demand.

Revision is boring. Occasionally I have learn something for the first time because I missed (by choice or by the fairly dreadful course planning) the lecture, but mostly I am revisiting or, indeed, revising, my knowledge base. Whilst I slog through the material I will confess my mind starts to wander a bit, and one topic that I keep on coming back to is my role in life as a man, whatever that means. And like any good physical exam, I start at my hands.

The phrase "knowledge worker hands" I stole from Merlin Mann, and it refers to that nice soft palm and fingers experience that comes from living via the keyboard or whiteboard. When I nursed, my hands were invariably dry or cracked from the alco-gel or the soap I used dozens of times a day. There were callouses from pushing and pulling things all day long. I came to see them as nurse's hands. Working hands.

Since the start of my course, my hands became softer, better hydrated, fewer (if any) callouses. And I have begun to feel a certain disdain towards them. Maybe it's a loss of identity, or a natural distrust I have of soft hands on a man (utterly ridiculous, I know), but my hands became knowledge worker hands.

I've started climbing recently and I now sport callouses and scrapes and an ever increasing grip strength. I've started practicing Aikido again, after many years away from it and realised that I had lost any sense of the "killer grip" my new sensei talks about. The grip that when applied to your wrist causes your hand to claw up. I've picked up my guitar again and I notice my fingertips are soft and hurt after a short time of playing. I wonder if this is all a response to how I see medicine in some way. I know that it is hard and demands so very much, that surviving the long hours and ability to think on your feet is a skill. But my hands soften and that bothers me on a very fundamental level. I don't really understand why. Maybe this is material for a midlife crisis that's just been delivered a few years early.

My feet are runner's feet. My hands must not be knowledge worker hands.

Go figure.

No comments:

Post a Comment