The arc of physical control that we experience jumped out at me as I was reading a novel. In it an elderly man sits at a window, knowing his death is just around the corner. He attempts to raise his hands up to the trees he’s watching, but they just tremble instead. At this point in his life he can think back upon all of the strength they had in them, all of the things those hands have done. Yet he finds all he has left to control is his voice …

And that too is how we come into this life. Screaming, with no understanding of language but at least some control over our vocal cords. Our heads flop, necks too weak to support them. Hands, arms, and legs flail meaninglessly for months. At some point we make the connection that those arms magically are a part of our bodies. Our bodies to control. Once the synapses begin to connect.

It’s a slow process. One that seems to require vast consumption of milk and near constant sleep. My daughter is still going through this process. I can see the concentration in her serious eyes, her still face, as she pinwheels her arms around and kicks her legs. Crosses her eyes and learns to pull them out again.

At 10 weeks old, this week, she managed to reach out and grab both hands of a stuffed frog — one in each of her hands. With that accomplishment she laughed out loud, yet another new discovery on her ride through life. The two of us sat laughing together. She continues to learn to use those tiny little hands, and her curiosity about other hands has begun. She stares at our hands as they go through the motions of daily living that have become so routine to us yet hold so much mystery and power to her developing mind and body.

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