Training my Left Hand to Write

I seem to have injured my right hand – once again – from writing too much.

I can’t tell if it’s a muscular problem or if there’s some issue with the nerves. I experience pain, numbness, and weakness in my right hand all at the same time. It’s a strange feeling to have. I don’t know how to explain the sensation (or lack of it).

It got so bad that I couldn’t hold a pair of chopsticks last week. I could still hold a pen, but it was difficult trying to control the movement.

Last week, I decided to see a doctor about it. The doctor thinks that it has something to do with the nerves in my neck. That’s scary. I did an x-ray but the report hasn’t come back yet. I’ll know the answer soon.

I figured I should learn to write with my left-hander just in case my right hand doesn’t recover, or if treatment to fix my right hand is beyond what I can afford. It’s probably a useful skill to be ambidextrous anyway.

One of the first things I did last week was to train myself to use chopsticks with my left hand. That has worked out quite well. It’s still not perfect. I mean, I can’t pick up noodles as easily as before, but it works sufficiently well for me to finish a bowl of noodles.

But the success of chopstick-use has inspired me to try using my left-hand for other things.

I’m now training my left-hand to use the mouse. This hasn’t been going as well as I hoped. It really takes a lot of patience. The problem is that my left hand isn’t as agile and flexible as my right hand. I move the mouse pointer slower than my right hand, and even so, I still end up clicking the wrong things every now and then.

One thing I realised from this experience is that my mouse is not ergonomic at all. Just a short period of use and my left hand would cramp. Perhaps that is why my right hand is now in this sad situation. Ironically, the mouse I bought had an ergonomic design. I’m trying to find an ergonomic solution, but so far the ones I’ve seen are really ugly. Do you have a mouse to recommend?

I have also tried learning to write with my left hand. Capital letters are fine. They look like the writing of a 3 year old, but it’ll do for now, I guess. I still have a lot of difficulty writing out small letters. I think the problem lies in the fact that there are more curved lines in small letters.

As they say, practice makes perfect.

Oh well, wish me luck!

The Morning Ritual of Pen and Paper

Have you ever found yourself in the situation, where you start out your day with some thoughts about what you’re going to do, but the moment you switch on your computer, you suddenly find that you’ve forgotten what exactly you were supposed to do.

And so you sit there feeling rather lost and confused.

Do you get that? Does it happen a lot to you?

I get that a lot. It is as if my computer monitor emits amnesia rays that wipe out one’s short-term memory immediately upon exposure. And then I waste the next hour or so trying to reconstruct or remember everything that was on my mind, with a certain feeling of confusion and helplessness, like a lost child in a crowded marketplace.

It’s terribly frustrating.

Not too long ago, I read an article about developing a good habit of starting the day by transferring everything from one’s mind onto paper.

I think, this should be done before turning on one’s computer.

The author recommended spending at least 10-20 minutes, writing everything that comes to one’s mind, without worrying about organising or structuring the contents of one’s thoughts. It can be in the form of bullet points, mind maps or even prose.

What matters is that you are able to flush everything out of your head, onto paper.

I’ve been experimenting with this for some time now, and I must say that it really helps me out a lot!

As a morning routine and ritual, I now start the day, making myself a cup of coffee, and return to my desk with the computer still turned off. I’ll put my phone aside far away from me, take out my journal and begin writing away.

Nothing like a good pen and paper to make the writing process a lot more pleasurable.

At the end of this writing exercise, I’ll switch on my computer, and type out everything I wrote, categorising them as tasks to do for the day (or week), or as notes for future reference (and for ease of searching).

If I find myself feeling lost and confused due to the amnesia rays coming from my computer monitor (no, I don’t seriously think there’s amnesia rays coming out of my screen – I’m just joking), I can always refer to the notes I wrote in the morning, and in a matter of minutes, I’m back in action.

I’ve since extended my pen-and-paper only exercise from 20 minutes to an entire hour each day. It seems to me that I write and develop ideas better this way too.

My hour-long ritual of pen and paper now involves writing lengthy pages of ideas (and sometimes blog posts like this).

Yes, there are many distractions on the computer. But I think the presence of the backspace button really alters the way one thinks. The temptation to hit the backspace (or delete) button brings about constant and abrupt halts to one’s thoughts. Ideas don’t flow smoothly from one’s mind to the keyboard.

Whereas, with just a pen and paper, not only are the distractions minimised, but the very absence of the backspace button compels one to chew on an idea first before transferring it to paper.

And when the idea is properly developed, the idea flows from one’s mind onto paper as smoothly as the ink flows from my pen.

Sure, this sounds like I’m re-discovering the invention of fire. But for someone who’s been overly reliant on technology, and have placed great faith for years in the power of technology to do away with the traditional methods, it is truly amazing and bewildering to realise that till now, nothing quite beats the good ol’ pen and paper.

Isn’t it ironic that despite our great advances in technology, no technological solution out there functions quite as well as pen and paper?

Second Person Narratives

Here’s a random thought that came to my mind: why aren’t there stories written in the second person narrative? (i.e. stories involving, “you”).

I’ve not seen any literature out there are employs this mode of writing.

If you think about it, it can be – and in fact, it is! – very exciting. When you read or tell stories from a second person narrative, it’s as if the subjective phenomenal experience of life unfolds before YOU! Yes, even if it is very very mundane, the fact that life unfolds before your very mind is an intriguing experience. It seems that the mind works very differently when you read in the second person.

To demonstrate this, I shall recount a brief description of the start of my day in the second person narrative: (Ready? Let’s go!)

You regain consciousness. You experience darkness. You hear a continuous stream of sound. As you slowly gain more consciousness, you begin to perceive it as classical music. Ah, you remember it as the sound of your radio alarm.

You open your eyes. You experience the fading of darkness into light. You see the sun shining through the curtains. Your body aches. You experience the sour, aching sensation in your shoulders and your calves. You wonder why they are aching, and you slowly remember that last night, you were busy doing some household chores.

You reach for your phone to look at the time. You press the button on the side of your phone: the time now is 6.55am. You try to get up but your aching body doesn’t agree with your decision. You continue to lie in bed. You close your eyes and continue listening to the music.

You’re too tired to think. Nothing goes through your mind. You feel as if you are going back to sleep. You hear a voice. You awake once more and pay close attention to the voice. You realise the radio station is now broadcasting the news. You continue lying in bed with your eyes open. After a while, you try again to get up. You succeed. Now, you are sitting upright on your bed.

You turn to the right and you stand up. You feel the coldness of the floor. You stretch your arms and your legs, and you begin walking towards the toilet. You stand by the urinal and pee. You feel a sense of relief. Now, you turn to the tap, and turn on the water. You feel the cold water flowing onto your hands. You stretch out your hands, you reach for the soap, you lather it up, and put the soap back. You rinse your hands. Now, you reach for the toothbrush and the toothpaste. You brush your teeth…

Well, you get the picture.

Try reading the passage above in an excited tone. It makes for a very thrilling story.

Anyway, yes, we should have more stories like this. It’s very intriguing. Life unfolds before your very eyes.

Pretty cool, isn’t it? Why don’t you try narrating a story in the second person narrative?