Life is rough for lefties

Kevin Crittenden

I broke my hand once. I had been riding a mountain bike and I squeezed hard on the front brake. After I went head over heals I found myself flat on my ass looking at three fingers bent askew.

I got a soft cast and learned to use my left hand to do most things.

The experience lent me the perspective of the left-handed minority among us.

Our anatomy is symmetrical from the outside. Most of us are born with two hands.

Common sense would seem to suggest there should be a 50 percent split between lefties and righties.

But common sense is probably a myth.

Studies show Southpaws are a measly 10 percent of the population worldwide.

From ancient cave paintings to scissors designed for the majority, there is a long history of man’s dominant right-handedness.

After the injury I was surprised at how quickly my brain adjusted to tasks that, at first, felt clumsy.

For the purpose of writerly integrity, or maybe just to give myself an easily met goal to feel good about, I made a choice to use my left hand for everything this week.

Whereas in my natural rhythm of living as a righty, I more or less watch myself do stuff without thinking, giving my weak side a chance to perform forced me to think about what I was doing.

It was dangerous at times. Trying to butcher a chicken proved a waste of time and a disgrace to the animal.

Left-handed high fives are not welcomed. Left handed hygienic habits take a surprising amount of concentration to perform.

But I noticed something more.

After a day of this I realized there were all kinds of other behaviors that showed a preference for one side of my body over the other.

Mounting a bicycle, pushing a skateboard, crossing arms or legs: all of these make use of a dominant side of the body.

The simplest task when attempted backwards, against the grain, opposite of the comfort given out of habit and natural inclination, makes for a strangely meditative experience.

Kevin Crittenden can be reached at [email protected] or @kevlodius on Twitter.