The Making Of The One Hand Wonder Man
When brainstorming my next article to write, I went back and forth a lot deciding if I should focus on music again, or if I should give anyone who reads this a look into what it's like growing up two-hand challenged.
For those who don’t know, I was born missing my left hand (it stopped growing at the wrist, which I call my nub). But to my knowledge, I was like every other kid growing up because I never knew what it was like to have two hands — I just figured how to do daily tasks on my own and with the help of my family.
Some might think I had a tough childhood because we all know how kids are with teasing, but I can’t say that I was teased more because of my nub. I actually have a lot of good memories growing up and playing with my friends. I owe it to them a lot for helping to build my confidence and to not care what anyone thought.
I grew up watching sports a lot and wanted to play everything I could (the only exception was tackle football… anyone with a Jewish mother will know why). With the help from my dad, I figured out how to play baseball and basketball. I played soccer when I was young, but to be honest I wanted to challenge myself more with a sport that required the use of both hands.
My favorite sport as a kid was baseball. I remember practicing a lot with my dad and really trying to master catching the ball with the glove, taking the glove off, and grabbing the ball out with the same hand. I got so good that you couldn’t tell the difference between my method and the normal way. What inspired me to play this way was Jim Abbott who was a one-handed pitcher that played for the California Angels and then the Milwaukee Brewers. Thanks to my mum, I got to play catch with him on the field of Three Rivers Stadium while they were playing the Pirates. It was such an awesome feeling to meet one of my childhood heroes and to have him cheer me on every step of the way.
Eventually, when I got to the 8th grade, sports became less of an interest of mine. I still loved playing them every chance I could, but to me, it was more about having fun and less about just competing for all of the time.
I remember after the first couple months of 8th grade when I asked the band teacher if I could join band. Without even asking me what instrument I wanted to play, he suggested the trumpet because it was easier to play with one hand. After I told him that I wanted to play the drums, he said it would be too hard and that was that.
Luckily for me, I moved out to California during the second half of my 8th-grade year and never lost my passion for playing the drums. The first couple weeks of school, before I really even knew anyone, I went to meet with the band teacher and told her that I want to play the drums. Without hesitation, she said sure! I was overwhelmed with excitement — I couldn’t believe that I was going to get my first chance at playing the drums!
Even though I mastered the art of playing baseball with one hand, the drums were a whole new ballpark. We tried everything from wristbands to the velcro straps you use to tie up cables, even to a prosthetic hand. Out of all the “inventions”, we came up with, the velcro strap worked the best.
After getting the hang of it, all I wanted to do was practice playing the drums. I was fortunate enough to have enough space in the house for my own drum set! I practiced any chance I could, and my mum signed me up for extra classes to improve my skills. We used to go to Jazz lounges on the first Sunday of each month when my instructor would sometimes play, and I even got to sit in on a few sessions.
I continued playing in band all through high school as well. Band became such a huge part of my life and made my high school experience that much better. Being the new kid in town is tough, especially when you are worried if the kids will tease you all the time because of your hand, so I was thankful to have the band act as my support system.
I was fortunate enough to go to a school that had enough funding to support the music and arts program and I can’t imagine what school would have been like without it. This is why I am planning on starting or joining a nonprofit to help put money back into music programs in schools. Music has drastically changed my life, and it’s my goal to give the same opportunity to kids just like me.
My parents and sister made sure that I should never feel sorry for myself and always told me that I could do anything that I put my mind to. I felt proud and continue to feel proud that even though I was faced with a huge obstacle in my life, I was able to work around it. Life isn’t easy for anyone, but it is all about figuring out how to make it work the best way you know how to.
Now, when I start to feel self-conscious, I remember even though I was born this way, nothing has, nor will anything ever stop me from achieving my dreams.