Thumbs Up – or Sideways

I’ve taken my thumbs for granted over the years. When I was a kid, I asked myself: If I could only keep one finger, which would it be? (I had way too much time on my hands as a child and I filled it with ridiculous questions.)

My thumbs were the first I would part with. I appreciated all the grasping I could do when I used them with my other fingers, but a thumb by itself seemed useless to me. And mine were so stubby looking – like little Lincoln Logs. And, I thought that if I only had a thumb, people might think I was giving them the Fonzie-style thumbs up of approval and I didn’t want to risk miscommunicating that when, at a young age, I was already dissatisfied with pretty much everything around me.

My pinkie fingers were the next to go. I thought mine were really cute, because I loved anything miniature, but they seemed pretty useless because I had never actually seen them do anything.

My ring fingers were third to go on my list of needless digits. I was on the fence with that one because I liked to wear pretty rings. At the time, in the 1970s, I had never seen anyone wear a ring on any other fingers. (Hence, the scientific name of that digit: ring finger. Do people still call it a ring finger, even though we wear rings on all of our fingers now?)  But, after my ring finger failed to keep my beautiful purple birthstone ring from falling down the toilet drain, I deemed it useless.

My middle fingers were next to go. That was not an easy concept for me to part with them, because I embraced freedom of expression. Those fingers really helped underscore parts of my vocabulary.

My index finger on my right hand was the one finger I decided I would keep. I needed it to point at people who erred in some way. And communication was so important to me that I thought it was vital to have that finger to dial the rotary phone so I could talk to people for the rest of my life. I thought if I had to, I could also peck out my thoughts with that finger on a typewriter. But mostly I wanted it for rotary phone use.

After my decision to keep my index finger for communicating, along came push button phones that I could have used with something other than that finger. Then cell phones came along that required use of my thumbs. When I used to use my first cell phone, I often joked about how thumbs were probably evolving as a result of texting, because I could actually feel the strain on my stubby joints – and today I have osteoarthritis in my left thumb. Now it’s evolved into something that’s turned a little sideways and hurts all the time. I’m trying to figure out how to make my thumb last another forty some years because I suddenly value it, and I’ve realized that it actually was kind of cute before it started twisting.  At least now I do most of my texting on my smartphone with that weird ridge that has developed on the end of my right index finger, so I can still communicate.

I wish I could learn to appreciate the things I have before they’re gone.

thumbs sideways


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© 2016 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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