By Adam Sinicki
My reasons for attempting to become ambidextrous were many. The first was for combat purposes, as I hoped to be able to punch with the same speed and accuracy on both sides. The second was for preparation, preparation for my right wrist (which is royally screwed) becoming too arthritic to work with. The third was for bodybuilding, to elliminate any lack of symmetry. The fourth was to be able to write this kick-ass article; and the fifth was because I have waaaay too much time on my hands (both hands you could say).
Day 5 of experiment
I still notice a big difference between the hands though, and I’m still not at the stage where I could ever really use it. I couldn’t for example take notes while interviewing people at work like this; it would take too long and be illegible. Also the paper tends to move more when I’m using that hand so I still need both hands free.
If I continue at this rate I could be done in no time. I wish I’d started before. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to write two separate sentences at the same time. If I can play two different melodies on the piano then why not?
Also randomly Nathan from work has started doing it too off his own accord. Strange coincidence. Now I can compare results. To add an interesting twist, he is actually left handed which he apparently learned from his Dad (who became left handed after hurting his right hand). That says to me that it can definitely be learned.
I wonder if ‘right’ actually comes from ‘write’ as it’s the side you write with??
Day 12 of experiment
Improvement is still continuing, but although I haven't experienced any depression (I don't do depression), I do suspect this is messing with my head somewhat. First of all my head feels sort of tense. I don't really know how to explain it and it could well be a placeabo or coincidence but still it definitely feels like there's something there and it feels worse on days where I have done a lot of left-handed writing.
Furthermore, when writing with my left hand I find strange things happen, like I write entirely the wrong word, or I make really weird spelling mistakes. Then the other day while I was talking I said 'that would never happy'. I meant to say 'that would never happen' - that would never happy doesn't make any sense! Whether or not this is related I can only speculate, but as others have reported on psychological effects I suppose that it could well be the cause, and Nathan is describing similar phenomenon too (although I think he may have given up already). Either that or I have alzheimers.
Day 16 of experiment
My writing has improved to the stage where I now make notes in my journal with my left hand and they're fairly quick and legible. Despite this however I seem to have hit a plateaux. I still couldn't jot notes with my left hand and it doesn't seem to be rapidly improving anymore. Piss eggs.
Day 20 of experiment
The plateaux is still presenting a problem and my writing is consistently 'okayish'. I guess it's that whole 'law of diminishing returns' and that I just need to keep up the hard work. What I have noticed however is that a lot of my other motor-skills have also improved. For example I now can brush my teath with my left hand and my punching has become a lot more powerful.
To make the most of this I have swapped to left-handed mouse (just moved it to the other side). This is good training as it a) doesn't have to be fast or accurate, and b) is hard to forget as the mouse is in a funny place.
So that's the story so far. A tale of determination, of joy, sorrow and love. The results aren't perfect yet but it's a massively marked improvement over me three weeks ago. I can now 'feel' my left hand more and I tend to use it more for mundane tasks. It helps with multi-tasking, coordination and several other things besides. I've come to believe that they should teach this in schools when the brain is still at its most subtle (I also think that bodybuilding should be added to the year 1 syllabus though...)
I'm now pretty confident that next year back at Uni I'll be taking notes with both hands. I highly recommend you give it ago, even if you only improve as much as I have you'll be glad you did.
Next up: Echolocation!