What It Means to Know Something

I actually don’t know the back of my hand that well.

I know the keys of a keyboard, the home screen of my phone, the produce section of my grocery store better than the back of my hand.

If my forefinger got a new crease, I’d be less likely to notice it than if the bananas were moved closer to the cold cuts. It’s just not as punchy to say, Listen, I know toboggans like I know the produce aisle at Hannaford’s.

The back of our hand. A few knuckles, a little mountain range of veins, many many small lines. There is no urgency to knowing it.

Or is there?

Our hand is our ally. It waves and shakes for us. It puts pen to paper, fingers to keys, seeds into soil for us. Alongside our spoken words, it is the main instrument we use to put our ideas, ourselves into the world. Our hand is like a second voice.

What would it mean to know the back of our hand?

I don’t think it would mean knowing every ridge and wrinkle. It would only mean to care for it. Care with soap and lotion or rest and rubbing. Care with attention, appreciation, perhaps something like awe.

Then, when we say we know something like the back of our hand, what we’re actually saying is: I care for it.

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