“Idleness is the Dead Sea that swallows all virtues.” ~Benjamin Franklin
I am a thumb twiddler. I hate it. I have to be doing something all the time. If not, my hands are restless. Kind of like my mind. Idle minds and hands are not good things in my opinion. They must be kept busy to be sharpened.
My grandmother (Big Mama) was a thumb twiddler. I hated to watch her twirl her thumbs and wring her hands. It made me feel nervous. It made me weary of growing old. I always wondered why she did it and now I understand.
She would sit on our sofa or ride in the car and twiddle her thumbs all the while. And now I know why she did it. She was a woman who kept her hands busy. They planted, weeded and harvested her garden. She cleaned her house, cooked meals, and mended clothes. And of course, she was a vibrant talker who expressed her emotions not only with tone but with her hands.
Thus when she was forced to be sitting at someone’s home, she didn’t know what to do with her hands so she politely sat them in her lap and actively twiddled her thumbs. I’m sure her mind was busy ascertaining the current situation. And because she was not actively engaged in the conversation she didn’t need to use her hands. She exchanged expected niceties that didn’t necessitate expression.
I’ve only recently discovered how much I am like my grandmother. I often find myself twiddling my thumbs if I am in a situation where I am not in control or bored. I feel the need to stay busy. If I am even watching television I am not content unless I am multitasking with my laptop or some fiber art in hand. If I am a participant of formal conversation where I feel pressured, I restrain from talking animatedly with my hands by twiddling my thumbs. Dang, I hate that I do that. I never realized that habits can be generational.