If your hands look old and wrinkled, you need to do something to fix them, right? Wrong!
Your hands carry all your experiences. They tell the story of your life — your ups and downs, highs and lows. They show the successes and failures that taught you about life along the way.
I remember when I first began to notice that my hands were showing signs of aging. I was never one to go to the trouble of hiding them in gloves or pockets but I felt that the lines, loose skin and bulging veins were certainly nothing to be proud of. I wore no jewelry on my fingers except my wedding rings, preferring not to call attention to my hands.
When I was much younger–in my early twenties or so–I dreamed of being a writer but lacked confidence in my skills even though many others, including college professors, had told me that I had a knack for writing.
Like a lot of young adults, I was searching for myself around that time and often came across articles about the huge impact that our inner voices have on us. I knew that my own inner voice often put me down, telling me that I lacked the skills to be taken seriously as a writer. So I decided to try to turn those negative thoughts into positive ones, just as the articles suggested. “Yes, I can. Yes, I can,” I told myself, again and again.
It took a while but amazingly, once I stuck to it, my inner voice slowly began to shift. It became much more positive and encouraging and my confidence shot up. My inner thoughts are now so positive that it’s hard to believe that I was once so down on myself. Long story short: I went on to become a bestselling author.
I decided to try something similar with my aging hands. I would stare at them and think back to the many things I had done with these hands over the years. I thought of sewing alongside my mother as a young girl and pricking myself with a needle a time or two. And of burning my fingers as a novice jewelry crafter when I brushed against a hot poorly placed torch. I remembered the days and nights I spent banging away on the keyboard as I wrote my novels and of signing two to three hundred books nonstop during book signings.
Would I want to give up the signs of those memories for this?
I eventually realized that I absolutely would not. To me, these youthful hands are pretty but also pretty boring. They lack character and drama. They tell no story. I don’t want to “fix” my hands to look more like this. My hands hold the precious memories of a life well lived. I want to flaunt them.
In many cultures around the world, aging is celebrated instead of being something to fear, dread and loathe as it is here in the United States. In countries such as China, India, Greece and Korea, seniors are valued for their experience and wisdom, which they are expected to pass along to the young. This is also the case in the Native American culture.
And research shows that there are more benefits to aging than simply gaining wisdom and experience. According to recent studies, older people are generally happier than the young because they feel less stressed, more content and more fulfilled. (See Time magazine.)
This rings true for me. In my younger years, I was constantly striving, reaching and pursuing — always wanting to do and be more. After about age 55 things started to shift. I began to value what I had instead of always wanting the next big thing. That included learning to love my unique, expressive, aging hands.
You can find all sorts of remedies and techniques out there to fix your hands: wrinkle creams, fillers, freezing, lasers, chemical peeling, hand lifts (yes, it’s a thing), and on and on. By all means, take the time to protect your hands against sun damage and dryness. But do you really want to make your hands a big project so you can turn them into a boring, blank slate?
I hope not.
Instead of trying to fix your hands, learn to love and appreciate every nook, crook and cranny. See them with the pride they deserve as a repository of the memories, triumphs and challenges that have woven the fabric of your life and made you who you are today: a mature person who has acquired valuable wisdom and experience to pass on to the next generations.