I can distinctly remember a time when I was walking on the beach with my cousin. I must have been about seven or eight at the time, and he was at university back then. While all the other adults were busy talking, he was simply holding my hand, while strolling down the beach. I can vividly recall this memory as if it happened just yesterday. This simple act of my hand being held made me feel seen. It was an act of caring, and to me, it mattered. I mattered. I mattered to another person so much so that he held my hand and silently walked a part of the way with me while everybody else was busy with their own thoughts and chatter. I have never shared this memory with him, and he must have long forgotten, but at that moment I felt protected, and it meant the world to me, and obviously, after all those years, it still does. Now he has a family of his own, and when we visit, I often recall how I felt in his presence as a young child. In those moments, I smile to myself in the knowing that he is a great dad to his girls, because real deep caring, the kind of caring that can be felt by simply holding someone’s hand, is genuine. At least that’s what I believe: I believe that when you feel someone’s greatness by their mere presence, then they are the real thing, and I feel fortunate and privileged to have made that experience at a young age.
I might not be able to remember phone numbers or impress by recalling historical facts, but I accurately remember what people’s hands look like and what their handshake felt or feels like for both speak volumes. It’s the first thing I notice about a person when I meet them – that and their eyes. The state of your hands shows the state of your life. Are you hardworking? Are you taking care of yourself? Smoking? Being artistic? It might sound very superficial to assess a person’s self or self-worth based on what their hands look like, but to me, it makes all the difference. Hands matter. Holding hands matters. To me, holding hands is one of the most intimate things you can do – it states: we belong together; you belong to me, and I am proud to tell the world; you matter and I care about you. How lucky are you if there are people in your life who are willing to make that statement. How blessed will I feel if at the end of my life I can sit with my loved ones, hold their hands and share mutual understanding without any of us having to say a single word? How great would or will that be?
Makes me think of a book I once got from a dear friend of mine: The hand that first held mine by Maggie O’Farrell. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have always liked the title: The hand that first held mine… I can think of many moments in my life when I found myself in unfamiliar situations and when I needed someone to hold my hand to calm my nerves and to get me through to the next day or to the next stage. Makes me smile to recall those people who have supported me; who have steadied my nerves by placing their palms on my hands “and heart”. Linked to that truth, I also remember holding my friend’s hand in primary school when we were away on a field trip. We were away for the night, and we were sleeping in bunk beds. From the top of the bunk bed, I was reaching down to her, and we were holding hands until we fell asleep. I adore thinking back to that day. It sounds so innocent and naive, but I find that the most mundane and most naive experiences in life are those that really stick around. In our most unguarded moments, we don’t have any hidden agendas, we don’t try to impress, or comfort, or become, we just simply “are” and back then, in my memory, we simply “were” – we were two small girls holding hands, steadying each other’s nerves, when being away from home for the first time in our lives was a quite scary thing. As adults, our handshakes leave a first impression, but often enough we try to influence the impression we give or “inform” that handshake with a particular “message”: we want to convey to the other person “I am your boss,” “I am the one in charge,” “I got this,” or “I am stronger than you,” or even “please be kind.” What if we all came from a place of innocent, childlike, or heartfelt intention when shaking hands. What if?! What would it reveal?!
So listening to the line “Mi mano en tu mano” – my hand in your hand, in Perdo Capo’s song, makes me think of all the hands I have been lucky enough to have held throughout my time here on earth – the hands of small babies, – some of them my babies-, the hands of dying people, -some of them people I loved and still love fondly and would have preferred to never let go of-, hands of loved ones and sadly enough also hands of people that have later betrayed me. At the time, I was furious, when I found myself in a situation of betrayal or when someone I loved was dying or leaving, because I had shared with them part of my time and showed them affection and all of a sudden they were gone, often without any real explanation or without any means to stop them or prevent them from leaving or moving on. I wish I could say that I have outgrown those distressing emotions and that separation of any kind now doesn’t affect me anymore at all or to that extent, but the truth is it still does. “Having to let go of someone’s hand” still makes me feel very emotional, and it probably will continue to do so for the rest of my life. However, I have come to the realisation that some hands you are holding today might be gone tomorrow without an explanation, either through death or betrayal or for another reason. That realisation in itself is no profound revelation, but as a consequence to that truth, I have chosen to consciously reach out to my loved ones and other people even more, instead of allowing potential heartbreak to make me more fearful, weary, or cautious. The fact that people I appreciate might be gone in the blink of an eye, or that strangers I don’t know yet might turn out to become really dear friends, just makes me want to “hold hands” with those I love and enjoy having around more than ever. And by “holding hands” I don’t necessarily mean physically holding their hands, but I mean a text message, a quick hello, a postcard, a bunch of flowers, or even a careful thought throughout the day, for I believe that even the most humble acts of kindness matter. Even in busy times, small, mundane acts of “holding hands” can mean the world to someone and they might remember your simple act of caring even twenty years later, like in my case, without you being aware of it.
“Tu mano en mi mano” – I know I am not the only one whose memories and emotions are triggered by a line in a song, but it still always amazes me that people can profoundly affect each other without them even being aware of it: Pedro Capo will probably never know (or even care 🙂 ) that his “your hand in my hand – tu mano en mi mano” made me reflect about my first love, my babies, my dead relatives, my loves, my friends, and teachers in life and wonder about the people in his life who inspired that song or whom he must have met when recording or making the video, but it did.