As separate as the fingers (suddenly as one as the hand)

October 24, 2007 in

I hemmed a dress today. It came out shorter than intended, but what's one going to do?

It is a thrift store dress that upon closer inspection was very clearly handmade, from a pattern, complete with outward notches and big 5/8″ seam allowances. I cannot help but think of the hands that cut it out of delightfully ’70s light green muslin and then stitched it together zipper and all.

Now it’s mine, and my hands have cut it and ironed it and stitched it up too. Such interesting connections happen that one can never know both sides of – everything in my life bears the handprints of people I’ll never know.

I can easily think of things that way – other people impacting me – but the thought of what MY hands have made making any impact on anyone is bizarre to me. My myspace musician profile keeps going up in playcount and I have no idea who listens, who out there is hearing phrases and chord progressions that I constructed alone at various midnights in various places but never with anyone around but me.

I’ve been wondering why I post my songs (or entries like this one, I suppose) — what is it that makes people want to voluntarily share bits of their privacy with the world?

What is that impels someone to toss into a swirl of bits and bytes all of the pain they hold, the random musings, the very love they make?

It’s so owned and so anonymous all at once.

Even when a full name is attached to a photo or a blog or a sex tape, that combination of letters you received at birth (or sometime later) means nothing to most of the world. Your soul begins to speak without you – your picture is saved to a hard drive, but not you. Your video is watched in the dark, but only your actions matter, not who you were when you lived them. You lose ownership of things that should only ever belong to you.

I was looking through old graphics assignments and was struck by a faux yellow pages ad I made for a made-up retirement home, featuring a smiling woman I pulled off a Google image search. I suddenly felt as though my hands were dirty, like I had trangressed somewhere, like I had taken a smile that did not belong to me of which I know no context and made it mean something entirely different, something which I had no right to do.

I can’t decide if this possibility of staring at the naked essences of people without earning that right is something growth-filled and humbling or something rather perverse. It’s almost like we as a society keep getting dropped off leisurely at the tops of mountains and have forgotten how much better the view is when we climb there ourselves.

Top image: Painting: Anna Ancher, Sewing fisherman’s wife, 1890. Mountains: Snow covered mountains in Ghazni, public domain.

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