“I can tell a man by his hand” – Socrates
Can secrets be discovered in the looping design of handwriting? What does your handwriting reveal? For centuries people believed they could uncover certain details from the way a person wrote.
Whether or not you believe the powers of “graphology”, handwriting can reveal certain attributes. For example, I am left-handed – or a southpaw if you will. I am one of those writers that to the eyes of the right-handed appear to be writing upside-down. I always leave the pages of a notebook bearing that telling ink blotch smeared along the side of my pinky and ring finger. In school I had to work extra hard to make my left handed scrawl decipherable. I couldn’t use the miraculous erasable ink pens – the ink would never dry fast enough, causing me to smudge my work on the page. I had to find pens with quick drying ink to prevent my script from tarnishing under the warmth of my hand as it rubbed over my words.
My handwriting underwent subtle changes over the years. The initial slant and loops of certain letters survived, but in high school and my college life, I mastered a precise legible form of handwriting that prompted compliments such as, “Wow, your handwriting is really neat for a leftie”. This radiant praise lasted until the arrival of RA.
The hands usually receive the worst blow with the onset of arthritis. We expect that during the rough days of fighting inflammation that our hands will be weak – we anticipate that we will have difficulty with many activities involving the use of our hands and fingers. I knew about the obvious things, but I didn’t consider the subsequent loss of my most basic skill – handwriting.
I noticed some days I had trouble gripping a pen, and as time went on my infinitely neat handwriting began to deteriorate to nothing more than chicken scratches. I am a bit old-fashioned in that I still love the feeling of a pen and a notebook. I handwrite most of my original drafts. I didn’t see that the picturesque looping letters of my pre-diagnosis were reverting back to the fated illegible scrawl of a leftie wilting under the hand of arthritis.
I was blissfully unaware of the measured deterioration of my handwriting until it was brought to my attention one summer afternoon while my partner and I languished at the beach. He was reading, I was writing this very article. I was happily scribbling away when my better half casually glanced down at my writing and innocently remarked, “What is the Ferret Hindenburg Rescue?” I was genuinely baffled. I had no idea what he was talking about. He pointed at my working title – “The Secret My Handwriting Reveals”. Yep, that’s when I realized my carefully crafted handwriting had been perpetually altered with the onset of RA.
I still like to handwrite in notebooks, but I must admit there are more and more days when I have trouble deciphering my own script. I have become dependent on the autocorrect in my computer device, grateful for its efforts in trying to lessen the cavalcade of gibberish produced on the screen by my weary hands. I have a pending appointment for a special therapy class to help me learn how to strengthen my hands and fingers. I may not recoup the splendid form of my college years, but if I can learn some tricks as to how to keep my fingers nimble, I’ll be satisfied. In the meantime, there’s The Ferret Hindenburg Rescue to remind me of my toils – just don’t ask me what it’s about – I haven’t a clue.