an/other/self

This skin is what ostensibly holds ‘me’ together. This cloak that gives my physical body shape. That defining line between self and other.

This skin serves many purposes. Millions upon millions of nerve endings bequeath the pleasure of touch and the warning pain of  harmful intrusions. Hair protruding out spreads just a bit further the perceived boundary of the ‘I’.

My skin well pigmented with melanin bestows protection from the sun’s damaging rays … and an easy visual target upon which to practice judgements of personal worth.

Countless deaths and atrocities have been perpetrated and justified by skin colour. Brown me, white you, black him, yellow her. These man made categories and divisions have had ramifications reaching across the centuries.

Focusing on this superficial appearance blinds us to the deeper commonalities: DNA, so similar to chimps, orang-utans and gorillas, tightly coiled within our cells; red blood pulsing through all our veins; and a beating heart looking for love.

Continually regenerating, we all leave microscopic cells of discarded skin behind us, like a marker of our wanderings across the earth. I wonder, is this skin really where ‘I’ start and end?


Photo credit: Tim MacFarlane (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

3 thoughts on “an/other/self

  1. Dinali you changed your post! What happened to your wondering about soul? I would be interested in you exploring thoughts around that.

    • I didn’t take anything out (except a couple of commas). I think that we are certainly more than just a biological machine that can be understood by reducing us to our more “basic” parts. After all something as glorious as love tells us that there is more to us and life than atoms and DNA. I would call this a soul.

      Part of my thoughts on this are as I wrote in previous post “We need to take this a step further and open up to the idea of not only an interconnected universe but that of a living universe. One where something, call it God, energy, life-force or the great mystery, permeates everything in this glorious, interdependent and ever-changing cosmos.”

      Yet I question the notion that we are really the discrete individuals we think of ourselves at. Existence seems to be much more mysterious and connected than that. Take “our” body for example which contains more bacterial cells than human cells. We are dependent on these bacteria for our survival. So what is the I in this?

      And similarly I coming to question the notion of a separate soul. The way we are is intimately tied to our bodily senses and our experiences. For instance even this piece I wrote came out of a writing prompt to sit with our body and write about what comes up from this contemplation. What resulted was heavily informed by the discussions in the class as well as my other experiences in life. So what of it was me ? Perhaps At another time in my life I would write something very different on the same topic. In fact the pieces I write that I am most happy with seem to come from a place that is bigger than me.

      A long answer that I will probably expand upon in further writings as I don’t have a coherent philosophy on what we are and so this blog is giving me a place to explore what this all means to me. Thanks for taking an interest Jan. Be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

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