Old Skin

The trick is to come out of it in one piece. It takes patience and dedication to rise to the challenge but if you want to grow, you need to shed that old skin, slowly, patiently, as you grow the new one. It’s a matter of pride, really, to not tear it, even though once you’ve achieved the desired result, once you’ve slid out of the old skin without so much as a rip, all shiny and wet, glistening as though oiled, you never do look back at that frumpy, empty envelope. It means no more to you than yesterday’s news. So, you ask, what’s the point?

I suppose it’s all about a job well done. You focus on that task single-handedly, shun all distractions, and buckle down to the dual task of growing and discarding. Growth does not happen in a vacuum – you need to support it by getting rid of the old skin. When the old skin becomes saturated with dirt or parasites, it starts to weigh you down. You’re slower, you don’t glide well, you become inefficient. We remember touch when we slide out of our old skin. In our old skin, we don’t think of touch that much. We take for granted the tickle of the grass, the sun rays that warm our blood. We entwine when we need to commiserate, skin on skin, a long and languorous embrace going the length of our bodies.

Really, it’s a matter of practicality. Why stick with a worn-out envelope when you can create a new one through sheer will? You’re growing from the inside out and you need room for all those new ideas, those new ways of being that are swarming you. Imagine shedding your skin! You’re giving birth to yourself in a mind-blowing sort of way. It’s like bathing in the fountain of youth.

Personally, I love the new-skin feel. It’s a little tender, of course, and you try to avoid rough areas in the beginning, before it toughens up. It smells good too. Nobody ever speaks of the new-skin smell, of its leathery freshness and yet… it’s no wonder that two freshly molted snakes attract each other like moths to a flame. The breeze on new smooth skin compares to no other. Your pores are open to new experiences, they welcome the stimuli like a thousand mouths lapping the milk of the universe. You can almost smell through those pores – they suck in the world and make it new. The best part of it is that your mind is as it was but you’re experiencing the world in a whole new way so that your senses inform your mind using new pathways. It’s like sliding into a technicolour world after having lived in black and white. It’s a symphony of sensations and emotions, encircling you, and enchanting you.

That’s why snakes shed their skin. And that’s why being a snake is the best thing in the world.