The epidermis is our largest, living organ. Its main purpose is to protect our innards. There are those that are thin skinned who are often razzed for bleeding easily whenever poked. And there are those whose skin is so thick they never bleed externally and sometimes appear to others as beings with super human powers or inhumane monsters. The delicate capillaries of the thin-skinned ones are so close to the surface their warm, flowing essence is easy to see. We sometimes wonder if the hardened ones even have blood circulating within them. Their inner lava streams rarely if ever surface. Like an old erupted volcano that once spewed its illuminating radiant core everywhere, it is now slumbering under a hard crusted surface. From the outside there is quiet and peace, seemingly beautiful; but underneath there is turbulence and turmoil raging and waiting to be released. Only an extreme amount of pressure produces freedom again.
Our protective shield grows as we mature, and morphs as we encounter myriad sensations of feeling pain. There are painful blows in the ring of life. Some hits only bruise us and some flat knock us out. Other times we are simply scathed, pinched, pricked, or poked. In worse cases we are slashed, speared, stabbed, or shot. The little pains don’t matter much it seems as they quickly heal. The deeper wounds, if left unattended, will eventually drain the life force right out of us and although we may appear living we are actually already dead. But, like the sleeping mountain, we can live again, even if it’s just vicariously through the lives we support around us.
A tricky puncture is the silent sliver, one that gradually works its way under your skin. Maybe at first you don’t feel it and when you do notice it, it is too far in and too much trouble to remove. It’s barely noticeable, unless you rub it the wrong way. So you go on, and on… Until one day you forget it’s even there. Sometimes you have a memory of it and you think maybe it came out on its own? Maybe your body absorbed it and now nothing is left? No matter. Until the one who splintered you in the first place attempts to jab you again, then pain comes at once, sharply much more poignant now than then. You still can’t put your finger on it but you know the source of the pain is in there, under your skin, under your armor; it’s in you. It’s prickly and it’s hot. You know the only option is to evoke your “Rambo” warrior spirit and dig out the abscessed shard yourself, whether you like it or not. You simply cannot heal until the penetrating poisoned dart is removed, for good. Dig, dug, fought and found, freed and unbound.
Of course pain is not the only sensation experienced. We love to feel love. From the soft, caring touches of a nurturer to the warm, melted breath of a lover. Brushing, not against our grain but, laid lightly upon our skin to gently absorbing deep into our core. With this our essence within flourishes. Our blood swiftly swims to the surface like hungry guppies wanting more. Here in this place we are secure. We are open. And here we are most vulnerable.
Through pain and love we struggle to find a perfect fitting to live in and under. If we forge it too strong we limit its permeability and risk rejecting love. But if we wear it too thin we unknowingly invite predators eager to bite. An epidermis soft enough to bend, thin enough to feel warmth, calloused enough to fend off cold, but not numbed by scars is not just a mere armor or a sheath; it is what houses us. It is more than a shield that protects us from outside elements. It is more than a living organ; it is the edge of us. The part of our being that allows us to live from the inside out. We can exhale exuding life with each breath or we can hold our breath excluding light, stay in our shell, suffocate and die.