“Our fickle bodies,” Bob remarked when I showed him my throbbing index finger. “All I did was pull a weed,” I whined, laying the swollen digit back on its bed of ice. Tami saw me minutes after it happened, a purple crease on a pale sausage. She comforted me with “This happens to me sometimes; guess we’re getting old.”
Only a few days earlier, I’d had to dig a splinter from underneath the nail on this very finger. I had washed my hair and laid the towel to dry over the wooden porch railing. After dinner, I grabbed at my towel and yanked my hand away when the dark sliver of wood bit into my finger. I didn’t quite see stars. Instead, I flashed on one of those World War II POW scenes the nuns used to show us in grade school before the duck and cover drills. (No wonder I dream about body parts.)
This seemed like more than a coincidence. Same finger, same week. I thumbed through Louise Hay’s “Heal Your Body” list. Under Problem, I found “Index Finger” and under Probable Cause it said, “Represents ego and fear.”
I didn’t see that coming! I suspected I might find something about fault finding, finger pointing, criticism, or judgement. I began to doubt the woman I’ve trusted since the 80’s. There’s nothing wrong with my ego, I thought, and I’m not afraid of anything.
I slept with my right hand elevated, and in the morning my finger was back to normal. But I couldn’t let go of Louise’s verdict. The words, “fear,” “ego,” “criticism,” and “judgement,” scrabbled at the back of my mind until I knew I had no choice but connect them.
“Do you think ‘fault finding’ has anything to do with fear?” I asked a friend, afraid of her answer. She’s one of those friends, though who knows how to deliver honesty in a velvet glove. Also, we are both first-borns, both diligently responsible for the behavior of our younger siblings. She realized she had to be in charge the day one of the neighbor kids drowned when she wasn’t paying attention. And it seems I always knew. My mother told me recently that I was “the centurion – the guard who watched out the door to see if everything was alright with my brothers.”
So we learned at an early age to recognize potentially dangerous behavior. It was our job to head mishaps off at the pass. Kids with matches, no, no, no, no. Swimming too far out into the bay, nope. All must be reported and/or addressed. Elsewise, we would hear about it. “Why didn’t you say something?” “How could you let this happen?”
That explained the connection between fear and judgement. As for ego, we agreed that pointing out other people’s faults is grand food for ego. I hated to think I was one of those people who make themselves feel good at other’s expense but the writing was on the wall. There is only one verdict for this unpalatable epiphany. Throttle back on the finger pointing. Decommission the centurion.
As a litmus test, I asked Bob what he thought. “That would be a good thing to work on,” he said with more gusto than expected. So I’ve stepped away from the score board. My decommissioned-self suppresses vocal criticism and avoids passing judgement. Blissful impartiality, here I come!
I thought it would be harder, this turning a blind eye. I imagined shivering in a corner with withdrawal symptoms. But it’s been as easy as tossing aside a winter coat on a warm day. Sure, I still notice the behavior of others, but I don’t feel the need to criticize. I’m loving my new freedom, and I owe it all to one little finger.