Writing a Book and Healing Trigger Finger


Who knew how similar the simultaneous projects of writing a new book and healing an old trigger finger?! At first glance, it seems that writing a book and dealing with the hands's intricate anatomy are both complicated tasks that require completely different approaches.  As it turns out,  I wrote and healed the same way. Here's the story, full of unintended tips for good living.

Image by  CFCF , licensed under  CC BY-SA 4.0

Image by CFCF, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Trigger finger is a condition in which a finger, in my case the ring finger of my right hand, becomes stuck in a bent position when closing the hand and then (hopefully) it snaps straight. My finger and all the surrounding joints and tissue felt stiff and at times swollen. Often trigger finger has no identifiable cause, but for me I can trace it back to a lifetime clutching a tennis grip, firm handshakes since childhood, decades of grading student papers, and the labor-intensive experience of writing my first book longhand using a skinny pencil! 

Over the course of writing the new book, twice a month a massage therapist treated my hand. Toward the end, I realized he and I had been approaching our job the same way.  First and foremost,  both of us worked with  unwavering devotion.  He massaged. I found words.

We went at it. He probed deep into bound tissue and I unlocked a story to tell. Slowly and patiently, slowly and patiently, ah yes, create more space. Breathe and stretch. Relax and open. Expand your reach.  Be mindful and attentive to the smallest detail. Feel the rhythm, catch the beat, go with it. Savor progress. Relax. Know when to stop and call it a day. Walk away and return renewed. Follow increasing awareness. Break up the stiff and stuck with steady and committed persistence. Love your work. Trust in your ability.  Heed intuition. Let the writing come freely and let fingers spread wide.  Stay right here in the moment. Now, a twist and pressure increases blood flow and opens space in the hand.  Now, sitting quietly, that just-right phrase appears...and the words flow.

Patience and practice.  Dedication and trust.  Breathe and stretch.  Relax and focus. Pay attention.  Ride the rhythm.  A year passes.

Hand healed. Book completed.  My hand and book are releasing together. Massage therapy and the writing craft: two peas in a pod.