Friday, August 10th

Left Handed but Always Right

Left Handers Celebrate the Right to Their Own Day:
August 12, 2012 is National Left Handers Awareness Day

As a right handed person I don’t feel the pain of trying to function in a world optimized for righties.  But for one day, August 12 – National Left Handers Awareness Day – I’d like to imagine what it’s like, try to really understand their feelings of discrimination, and realize how much I take for granted.

My southpaw brother, Brit

I’m one of four children. We are all righties except for one, my oldest brother Brit.  He was, and still is a big guy – tall and broad, an early bloomer too.  Being a bit shy didn’t help matters either.  Or was he shy because he was a lefty and things didn’t come so easily?

I thought he was a bit of an oaf; big, bulky and oh, so clumsy.  Always breaking things and making a mess.  A bull in a china shop like we called my Dad (like father like son), but that’s a whole other story.

Growing up, he didn’t have an athletic bone in his body, although with his size he could have been quite intimidating and used his left handedness to his advantage over right handed opponents.  Most sports equipment, however, is ill suited and awkward for lefties.  Being more mechanically than athletically inclined, I can only imagine the challenges he has with tools and equipment (especially power tools and sharp objects like chain saws – yikes!).  Adding insult to injury, left handed tools and equipment are relatively hard to find and typically more expensive.

A Video Interview with Brit

My brother and his team - Brit is in the back row, far right

I recall other daily challenges that I had little patience or compassion for.  If the answer to, “What’s for dinner?” was “Steak,” there was a stampede to the dinner table to get a “good” seat to his right.  None of us wanted to sit to his left during any meal that required cutting – too much elbow bumping.

Kind of a handwriting snob, I’ve never been a fan of his penmanship. Come to think of it, I’ve never even seen his cursive as very legible – imagine writing left to right, with hand contorted, having to drag your hand across the page  smudging the pen or pencil resulting in a filthy hand … what a pain!  Cutting anything with scissors?  Forget it!  You might as well have given him a butter knife.  And let’s not even talk about zippers on trousers.

So brother Brit, here’s my official apology to you for not understanding or being sympathetic to the challenges you faced and for assuming you were simply a big klutz!  Despite being a southpaw (or maybe because of it) you’ve done good, actually great!  I am so very proud of you – a respected leader in your field, a hero of the environment and the U.S. wildlands, taking pride in everything you do, and a trusted friend and family member bursting at the seams with integrity.

To celebrate the day I’ve sent a special card your way.  I think, unfortunately, you were also born with two left feet. Sorry, no special day or greeting card for that.

To all my left Handed peeps – Happy Left Handers Awareness Day (see, you weren’t left out!)

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