There is something about the hands. They are always there in front of us, reaching out into the world before any other member of body is brave enough to do so. Hands could very well be the most defining characteristic of the sexes. On women they can be svelte, polished, supple or sometimes just the slightest bit clammy and floury. A man's hands are like driftwood. Each should tell a shanty tale of a life of adventure. Formed in the waves of living life or, in the case of amputees and modern pirates, in a Chinese prosthetics factory. Today Guys, or pre-Men (PM's), tend to have the paws of a hand-modeling doctor who is heir to a moisturizing company fortune. I will volunteer quicker than a bored pensioner, that the work I do during the day is far from meaningful or manly. Spent hunched over a desk banging at Bill Gate's tuneless-keyboard, surrounded by 20-30 something women in a corporate hen house. About as hands-on as I get is the occasional tussle with the lid of a jar of pre-made salad dressing, for one of the ladies at lunchtime.
In many young men there is a simmering desire to do something more, something with the hands. Sometimes that urge is to punch the face of the invisible powers that be, other times it is the desire to fashion a middle finger at the monotony of corporate caging or simply just do a hand stand so at least some blood will rush to the head. A Real Man's ™ hands should see more action that a special forces soldier in Afghanistan. A Real Man™ is hands on. That means rolling up the proverbial sleeve, or in the warmer climates, revealing some shoulder. So what does hands-on look like in these confusing,web enabled, post-postal, metrosexualised times?
Sure you've got the option of all the classics trades for those who weren't keen on further education, ties, working indoors or making a standard wage with limited tax benefits. Then there are those accompanying classic male hobbies like fishing, knot tie-ing, dog patting, boar hunting, ball sports, tinkering with vehicles, engines and technology. Now there is nothing I love more than waking up in the morning, hands still intact, slamming a tumbler of whisky, shaving with my heirloom hunting knife then jumping in the ring at my local 'Y' for some bare knuckle boxing some local down-n-outs. But that's not all there is to the work of a Man's hands.
It should be more broadly acknowledged, that a real man's hands can also prepare a meal, type a tale, strum and bash out a set, paint a picture, snap a portrait, tend to the sick, comfort the lonely and hold the hand of a loved another. A real man should be able to show strength and sensitivity with the same set of hands.
Too easy it seems the pre-Men of our generation find themselves using their hands to hold themselves down. Grasping onto bottles, holding themselves back from their children, hitting out at irrelevant and invisible threats, keeping arms length from real relationships or just spending far too much time down their own pants. These 'dudes' are happy placing their palms out for a ticket to an easy ride, rather than putting their palms down on the wheel and just driving for themselves.
Far better men than I have said, and I agree, that one of the best things we can do with our hands is to pray. It's an act of admitting you can't do it all and need help from a higher source, that even my man-strength isn't enough. I often pray that God would guide my hands to do something good, something meaningful, something with purpose. Something manly. But then I look down at my hands, notice my nails and briefly consider if I should try a manicure...and realize there is a long way to go.