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Left. Right?

June 7, 2009

I recently discovered Instructables, an online compendium of how-to articles. It’s more detailed than eHow, more navigable than Craftster, and more generalized than Ravelry. But what I like most about it is that there are Instructables about anything—from microwaveable cake recipes to steampunk bluetooth headsets.

A few weeks ago, one project in the Instructables weekly newsletter caught my eye. It was called “The Quest for Ambidexterity,” and gives instructions on how to become proficient at using your non-dominant hand. Some of the suggestions are more practical than others, but they’re fun to try. I could feel my brain staying young as I tried to write my name with both hands at the same time.

But besides being good for my mental health, becoming ambidexterous has the potential to being a very useful skill. I’ve never broken a bone (knock on wood!) but while talking to someone who has broken her wrist several times, I was horrified to hear how many everyday tasks become a challenge: zipping your pants, opening a jar, and even brushing your teeth. Though if I found myself unable to knit or bike, I would probably be too depressed to even consider getting dressed, eating, or worrying about personal hygiene.

So although I won’t be weighting down my left hand anytime soon, I will make an effort to use my right one more. I nearly ruined a batch of polenta last night because my right hand and wrist got too tired to stir it properly after only a few minutes of whisking. I didn’t even try to eat it right-handed. But I have high hopes that it will get easier. In fact, as a lefty struggling in a world made for righties, my quest for ambidexterity should make my life a little easier. And at the very least, it will keep my mom from sending me articles about things like “cell phone elbow.”

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