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One hand washing

By Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity

As some of you may know, I recently had an accident in New York which has meant I have not really been able to use my left hand for several weeks. It is now all fixed and on the mend but it was, to put it mildly, a challenging time.

Immediately after the accident, and before I realised the true extent of the fracture of my bone, I thought I had just badly bruised my elbow and so proceeded to complete a 10 km run, with little discomfort. However, as soon as the X-ray came in it was obvious that my left arm, and thus my left hand, needed to be immobilised. While I actually write with my right hand – at my school in the 60s and 70s they would not allow you to use your left – I am naturally left handed.

Why do I bring this up? Well firstly to make one think about how much having two hands available make life very much simpler. As the title suggests, just try washing your one hand, with only that one hand. Never mind putting your socks on, or squeezing toothpaste onto a brush to do your teeth, or cutting your food to eat.

Starting my computer has its own issues. I now know the best way to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete with one hand is to grab a blunt pencil in your teeth, hold the Ctrl and Alt keys down with your good hand and stab the Delete with the pencil. Thereafter, however, things are not so easy.

Equally, no left arm or hand means I cannot drive, which is a major issue. In fact for several weeks, whilst the surgery settles down, I dare not use public transport.

I will leave it to your imagination the many other occurrences where only being able to use one hand, and my non-dominant one at that, has been, let’s just say “interesting”.

Now I am not writing all this for sympathy. I am not the first to suffer such issues and, regretfully, I am certain I will not be the last. However, what it has brought home to me is how interdependent we all are.

Without my left arm and hand, I needed my wife initially to help me wash and dress. Prior to the surgery I even needed my family to walk with me down a street to ensure no one bumped into the arm and further displaced the bone fragments.

To run Praxity while unable to travel, I need the rest of the team to take up issues that I would normally deal with. I often say that Helen, Praxity’s Chief Operating Officer, and the rest of the team are ‘my strong right arm’, which couldn’t be more true, but now they are also proving to be my strong left arm and hand.

So take a moment, if you please, to think about those people that support you in your everyday life and be sure you give them their due and thanks, as well as thinking about those who you may be able to offer more support to.

I know I usurped the Buddhist phrase used by Anthony Burgess in his novel “One hand clapping” for my title, but if I may also quote John Donne: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

One can be driven, one can be focussed and, as we have seen in the Olympics over the last several days, one person can get to amazing levels of achievement; but none have done it alone. Like me, they have had a great team behind them, both ‘professionally’ and at home. How many medal winners, when interviewed, have thanked their coaches and their mums?

In our goals and life, both private and professional, we need remember that no person can truly succeed alone, just like one hand cannot wash itself.