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Zworb and Migi

I'm feeling intimidated about writing blog posts, so tonight I'm taking on a subject that's not intimidating at all.

Min and I use the words "zworb" and "migi" for the left and right sides of our bodies, respectively. For directions in space beyond our bodies and clothing, we use left and right, or north, south, east and west.

(I'm transcribing my handwriting and I want to indicate which hand wrote which words, so I'm using italics for migi and non-italics for zworb.)

For example, to go out for a walk, Min's zworb shoe goes on Min's zworb foot, and Min's migi shoe goes on Min's migi foot. The road has no zworb and migi, so we cross to walk on the left side of the road. When we come to a trailhead, we might turn north onto the trail.

This started when Tamias noticed a neighbour, who was about four years old at the time, looking at her hands and worrying aloud, "One is right and one is wrong..."

What does it mean that we English-speakers call one side "right," and the other is merely left over after we've designated the right side?

Wanting a more ambidextrous culture for Min, Tamias thought about words it knew for left and right in other languages. "Droit" in French has most of the same meanings as "right" in English, and so does "derecho" in Spanish. The French word "gauche" has its own meaning in English already. Tamias moved on to Latin: "dexter" for right, "sinister" for left. Dexter is a root word of dexterity, so it carries meanings of ability and agility. Thus, if we used the Latin words, we'd be calling one side of our bodies able, and the other sinister. That's not what Tamias was looking for.

When I was suddenly sent to mainstream public school at the age of 14, one of my defenses against boredom was to teach my zworb hand to write. Passing a pencil from hand to hand helped avoid writer's cramp, and years later, I discovered that it had another benefit. It helped my mind shift perspectives, almost like passing a talking stick from person to person, so that my writing had some of the spontaneity of a group process.

Following Internal Family Systems, I call those perspectives "parts," and I'm now aware of dozens of them. At first, each hand had one main character that it embodied, and those remain attatched to their respective hands. Zworb started to talk about itself just now, and Migi took the pencil, wanting the first turn. Migi is educated, abstract, loves grammar and logic, tends to form long, complex sentences, gets lost in the cognitive mode almost to the point of feeling disembodied, and will happily write on and on about any subject except that ---

Zworb wants a turn.

Zworb cares about Tamias's body and Tamias's emotions. Zworb is resisting an instruction from Migi right now. Migi told Zworb to show off how different it is by exaggerating the characteristics that Tamias already knows about.

If Migi were the Empress, Zworb would be the Witch.

Tamias still identifies more with Migi, apparently, at least when it's writing for the public, because it felt unsettled when Zworb insisted on having its own say just there.

Having a zworb hand is useful. Migi gets caught up in language, playing games with language.

A few years ago, writing a breakup note to my sort-of-already-ex-partner at the time, my migi hand got caught up in explanations and accusations, writing faster and faster until it gave up on letters and made a big, angry scribble.

Zworb picked up the pencil and wrote, simply and clearly:

"I don't want to talk to you because you boss me around and it feels bad."

Then Zworb drew a box around those words.

A few months later, debriefing an exercise in a creative writing workshop, I mentioned to my sharing partner that I'd written with my (mostly non-dominant) left hand. Her response still fascinates me. Usually left-handed, she'd been writing with her right hand in that workshop, because her left wrist was in a splint. She was noticing that her right-handed writing used more complex grammar than she was used to using, even though her writing was slower.

One line she'd written read, "Am I smarter with my right hand?" She was noticing some of the same differences that I'd noticed, and they correlated, not in relation to dominant and non-dominant, but in relation to right and left.

Is any more explanation needed here? The languages of the Roman Empire and of it's modern manifestation, which I call Western Civilization, speak for themselves. The kind of intelligence that does well in school gets called right, while the embodied wisdom that got me out of an unhealthy relationship gets called sinister.

So, why "zworb" and "migi?"

Zworb is just a syllable I thought up as part of a game with Min one day.

Migi is borrowed from Japanese. I picked it up at the Isshinkan Aikido dojo in Vancouver, where I learned to identify the migi and hidari hands of a person facing me, rather than project my own "right" and "left" directions onto the rest of the world.

Zworb and Migi by Tamias Nettle is marked with CC0 1.0