A Measure of Human Progress

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My right hand

In strolling through a primary school recently, I paid particular attention to the art posted on the walls. So much of it used the students’ own handprints in the artwork. This gave me pause as I was struck by the human tendency to measure our human development by taking imprints of our hands.

Dipping a hand or foot into paint and slapping it onto a wall or piece of paper (or cave for that matter) is such an instinctual human experience. There’s something very natural about it. Very satisfying.

In a sense, that handprint on the paper is almost like a primitive mirror or a photograph of ourselves. It’s where we were and how we were at a certain date, time and place.

As I write these thoughts, I am recalling fond childhood memories of looking at imprints that my parents took of my hands and feet when I was tiny, a baby of less than one year. I remember that even as a young boy, I was fascinated with how small I had been.

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