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)