When did skin begin? At about three weeks of embryological development, we were a globby tubular form with the beginnings of our spinal cord. Each segment of the the spine began as a somite and each somite includes the future vertebra and surrounding tissues, muscles and the skin. At three weeks, there are eight cervical somites, twelve thoracic somites, five lumbar somites and five sacral somites. Each somite grows a dermatome, an area of skin surrounding tissues all enervated from the nerves branching from same vertebra. Our round arrangement of our sensing form is an echo if our complex organic cylindrical beginnings.
But this is not the beginning of our skinning. Was it there first? Pore, wrinkle and hair follicle free, forming our tensioned outer envelope continuous with our inner casings, growing, folding inside and out forming our cerebral, spinal and gut linings and our sensory receiving and sending visible outer boundaries?
During the time inside the womb we are sterile. No microbes reside either inside or outside our being. Only upon the breaking of water, do we come in contact with our first microbial skin inhabitants as we are squeezed, smeared with microbes and ejected from the birth canal. Later to number in the trillions, that’s 1 000 000 000 000 microbes that live on our skin as adults. That doesn’t include the hundred trillion, 1 00 000 000 000 000, microbes that live in our gut. You don’t ever need to feel lonely again, as long as you are in your skin.
Skin is curious. You only need to follow the impulse to reach out and touch. Hopefully it has not been beaten out of you as a child. Elizabeth Gilbert talks of ideas in search of a host tapping you on the shoulder asking, “Are you my mother?” over and over again until someone pays attention to that gentle nudge. Sometimes you may encounter chills up the arm or hair on fire highs of exhilaration, but it’s the gentle curiosity that is important to listen to and follow. With stillness and attention, many an adventurous day begins with feeling that tap on the shoulder and saying “Yes, let’s go play.”
And because Hokusai says… (by Roger Keyes)
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it is interesting.
Here is a bonus haiku on skin.
nude hula hooping
with fuzzy snuggly hoops
skinny spinning fun
Thank you skin and Kate Potter for sending me Hokusai says and to Joanne Avison for speaking about embryology so passionately on the Liberated Body Podcast ( I can’t wait to read her book Yoga Fascia Anatomy and Movement )and Elizabeth Gilbert and Shad on q on CBC.
(At about 1 minute in, she talks about ideas as bodyless entities looking for a host. At 13:15 – fear and creativity and at 15:00 – the importance of paying attention to curiosity, at 23:50 why creativity is important… just listen to the whole thing if you have time.)