Most cultures have a negative views of left-handed people. Sure, we pretend that left-handedness is just fine, but our culture is still biased. Both the words “sinister” and “gauche” have their roots in the words for “left” as a direction, away from “right.” Even that word ‘right’ means the correct way.
I was born left-handed, and that was simply unacceptable in my family. My pencil was put in my right hand, and later, disapproval of left-handedness was enforced with shame, yelling and punishment. As a result, I am a left-handed person who writes with the right hand. I brush my teeth and hair left-handed, I eat left-handed, but I write right handed.
Last week I signed up for two classes–drawing and watercolor. My first drawing class was about getting the outline and proportion right. The object I was drawing was a curved knife. I did a shaky drawing of the knife with my right hand. (That’s it on the left, over there).
As I worked to see the knife and get it down, my left hand moved with the right. I noticed it, and just for the fun of it, moved the pencil to my left hand. For one second, I was a little dizzy, and then I re-drew the knife, with far better results. The proportion was better and the lines were smoother and steadier. (The left-handed drawing is below.)
Because the pencil had been a writing instrument, I held it in my right hand. As a drawing instrument, it felt better in my left. I completed the rest of my class using my left hand. And made, as a mature age, a giant decision–to draw left handed. And to try the same experiment in my watercolor class. Because training and learning are two different things. And I need to learn to be left-handed again.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who also develops and teaches training programs on communicating with others. Images by Quinn McDonald (c) 2008 All rights reserved.