Saturday, August 1, 2015

Left handed

When I was growing up, I wanted desperately to be left-handed. It was part of my drive to be on the margins in all way. (I wrote a column in the high school newspaper called "The Outsider"!) That was my  'reason for being' (I can't remember how to spell the French phrase)--to be different.

I finally managed to hit in softball left-handed, but in every other area, I am hopelessly, irrevocably  right-handed. I may be the most right-handed person you ever knew.

I heard a long report on NPR today about left-handedness (I'd know nothing if it wasn't for NPR and Charles and Bill and formerly Fred in my Tuesday morning group!)

Apparently, scientists can determine if animals are right dominant or left dominant. And what they've discovered is that almost all species are 50/50 regarding the dominance of the left or right. (How they can tell wasn't gone into very deeply, so I'm left wondering if our dog or cat or bird are left-handed....)

What matters is this: the only animal on the planet that has a 90/10 ratio of right-handedness to left-handedness are human beings. Go figure.

But what sets us apart from every other animal? Don't think too hard--it's speech.

No other creature has a discernible vocabulary. And speech comes from the left side of the brain--the side that makes you right-handed. The theory is that our pre-verbal  ancestors were probably pretty much like the rest of creation--equally right-handed and left-handed. But, by using words over and again, we've strengthened the left side of our brain and most of us are right-handed.

Most of the left-handed people I know are more interesting than us right-handed folks. Artistic, athletic, charming. Which is why I wanted to be one of them.

But no luck. I'm amazing I can type even since the left hand is used, it seems to me, more than the right--a, e, d, r, t, f, c, b are all left handed keys--and, if you type, just notice that in spite of q, w, z, x and seems to me that the left hand is more involved--like this in "left hand" requires 5 left hand strokes to only 3 with the right hand.

(If I'm not careful, I'll be like Ogdan Nash's centipede, wondering how to type....)

Oh, last thing--primitive tribes have more left-handed folks that developed countries...and the more they have, according to research, the more violent they are....So, maybe it's good that a pacifist like me should be hopelessly right-handed.

Who knew....? Besides NPR....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.