I have been called thin skinned, too sensitive, easily hurt…..and more. And I am sensitive, although I don’t agree with the “too sensitive” label. I feel things intensely, and I am grateful for this. Isn’t this the beauty (and pain – the other side of the coin) of life? Are we not here to live, to feel, to cherish each moment of this human ride that we are on? If I am not sensitive, if I do not feel my own pain that is an inevitable part of life…..then I cannot feel your pain…..and we will not connect to the same depth. I cherish that connection, that understanding that we are both so very human and both experiencing all the joys and challenges that life can offer. We can share and be tender with each other. We can hold each other’s pain in our hands and in our heart. We can walk side by side…and perhaps not feel so alone for a while. So, yes I am sensitive. Thank God.
Now as I continue this aging process, I see another interpretation of being thin skinned. I never really noticed how much more fragile our literal skin becomes as we get older. The skin on my hands is much more paper-like with veins even more prominent than before. (I have always had prominent veins, which my clients at the drug abuse clinic where I worked would point out to me with envy…..! An interesting thing for someone else to lust after, yes??) But now, the veins declare their presence even more loudly. And my skin….I cannot bump myself and not notice anymore….my skin now tears more easily and the bruises look a much deeper purple color. I remember seeing my mother’s hands and arms show bruises like this, and here it now is on my own arms. It has come full circle. It is as if our skin becomes more and more fragile, less and less boundary between the earth and us….until it is time for us to go back to the earth completely….
I feel less of the boundary these days between me and the earth and all of its creatures. I feel the connection between and among us all. I, in my volunteer work at the local zoo, observe the elephants. And in moments I can feel completely connected with them as they live their lives in front of me. We are one. Our male elephant (my favorite …even though we are not supposed to have favorites) comes up in front of me (with the huge, heavy fence between us, of course!) and we spend a moment simply staring at each other and being together in that moment in time….two creatures simply being and being together. Those are moments that I cherish beyond what any words can describe. I watch the birds bathe outside my dining room window and am lost in their splashing and fluffing and joy in the moment. This is how I meditate….this is how I get lost in the moment. And I cannot help but feel a stab of pain when I pass some creature on the road that has been hit and killed. A life that was and is no more.
I think about death more these days, as mortality becomes more and more real as time keeps marching on. The reality of death. Estate planning is now one of my projects…..planning for my own death and what I want to give and to whom. There is something very surreal about that whole experience, and yet it is a necessary one. And although it may sound morbid to be thinking more about death, it is actually very life affirming. It helps me appreciate each moment so much more. And let go of the unimportant things that I have spent so much of my life worrying about.
I am letting myself be seen more. Exposing this thin skin to the world, with my writing, with my art. I ask myself (when I feel the fear of putting myself out there come up) what will this matter when I am dead and gone? Who cares what others may think? I have things that I want to write, paintings to create, and life to live.
I am risking more with relationships as well. I am actually allowing myself the possibility of being in a relationship once again, even though the voices in my head tell me it is too late and I am being foolish. It is time to be foolish while we live, yes? To risk, to feel, to chance, to try….to live while we are still here? We are not dead yet. So why not live as fully as we can while we can? So our thin skin may become more easily bruised…is bruising not a sign of being alive and of our wounds trying to heal, yet again?
So yes, I am thin skinned ….and my skin is getting thinner all the time. Until it is no longer there, until there is no longer a barrier or boundary to my soul and spirit…..until I leave this body….Let me live in and feel this skin while I can. Appreciate its fragility and sensitivity. Appreciate the life that still pulses just underneath it…savor that I can still bruise and heal, that I can still feel. What a joy to feel it all. To be alive… here….now….thin skin, bruises and all.