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Like the Back of Our Hands Morton Marcus

We are so sure of ourselves: we know everything like the back of our hands. But turning one hand over and then the other, we realize we know little about either. They are the anonymous covers for the palms which contain everything of interest, including a map of the world we will travel for the rest of our lives, with paths, trails and highways leading in directions we can never be sure of—like those chiseled markings that stretch for miles in the Peruvian desert and, when viewed from airplanes high above, resemble gigantic animals we half-remember from dreams or drunken parties that inevitably end with each of us alone gazing up into the night. The four ridges that bulge on the back of each hand lead to five peninsulas separated by canyons that drop away into empty air as full of sudden squalls and blizzards as the mountainous landscapes of Tibet. So it is that when we finally study the back of our hands we shiver, and not from the cold, but from the recognition that whatever we thought we knew we didn’t know at all.