I sometimes find I am broken in places I didn’t know about. Skin peeling off, or flesh turning purple, and I wonder ‘how did that happen’? What casual grazing tore at my skin? What thoughtless bump is leaving its mark?
It seems humans are so impressionable.
It reminds of me of this line from “Atonement” when Briorny, I think, realizes how easily breakable humans are. We think we are so invincible, racing through each day like Superman but without the kryptonite, when in fact we can tear, unravel, come undone so easily and quickly. And often do.
When I was in primary school, I remember one of my teachers telling us how to hold a pen propery. She showed us a depression on the side of her middle finger – the result of gripping a pen too tightly for years and years. I sometimes watch my fingers now, where the pen has been squeezing against it, and when I put the pen down the skin rises slowly back into place. But maybe it’s slower every time, until the final time when it won’t rise at all. Until all it can do is be pressed down and be made to stay flat. Stay deformed.
Despite our pretense at invincibility we are frighteningly malleable, impressionable, and breakable.
It terrifies me a little, to be honest. Here’s something even more terrifying, if it’s true: apparently, if we were to bite off our own fingers it would be no more difficult than biting off a chunk of a carrot. But our brains are wired in such a way that it seems hugely impossible. When I heard that I placed my finger in my mouth and thought “Surely not? Surely it couldn’t be so easy.” But it is. And we only fool ourselves into thinking that it isn’t.