Dry bones can harm no one.
Only a cock stood on the rooftree
Co co rico co co rico
In a flash of lightning.
Then a damp gust
Bringing rain

Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder

The Waste Land, TS Eliot (1922)

Some time ago here I wittered on about the seven year cycle of life, about regeneration, phases, circles. And in other places here, I’ve wondered about time. The first is the pathway, the second the channel, you might say; the path might spiral round and round, but it will not be the same place as before, because the channel (or current?) has moved you forwards. As Heraclitus (and Herman Hess in Sidharta) said, “You can’t step in the same river twice.”

So why the backwards look now? I have slipped on a new theme: skin-shedding. Just a new way of looking at the same thing, in fact. It started with some footage of a fat old frog in Australia – the rains came, the land rejuvenated, life took all it could of the moisture while it lasted. It was positively orgiastic for all kinds of plants and creature, and completely necessary for life to continue. And then, before the drought returned, the fat old frog came out of the mud and began to peel off a layer of old skin, in preparation for its next period of living. And I had a little giggle, because he looked a bit ridiculous. And because – as anyone who’s had horrible eczema will tell you – we humans can also peel off whole layers of our own skin, just like the frog. Massive, crinkly strips of the stuff. Yum.

Well, I was remembering all this, and looking down a tunnel close to my home, and musing on regeneration and the body’s seven-year cycles….Doh! Obviously, it’s metaphorical, too, innit? Every so often, I remembered, we have to adapt our outside, our shell – what lies between you and the world – in order to survive. That could be how we relate to other people, for example, forcing us to review why we’re uncomfortable in a job / relationship / town / hobby that once gave us so much satisfaction. And to stay healthy, we have to shed the old skin and find a new one that allows us to live comfortably.

That’s why, I decided, we need both the path and the channel/current – time as well as the cycle. If we just went round and round, no matter how good the ride (and as I keep quoting ole Bill, it is only a ride), we’d

(a) probably be sick and

(b) ultimately throw ourselves out the car, just to escape.

“No going back” (to old places, old skins and old ideas of who you were) is a wise way of living for very good reasons. Some reunions, those backwards toe-dips, are good; some are atrocious. I’m missing my college reunion this weekend, through no design of my own (and funnily, the same happened with the last one), but had another of sorts, an informal one, last weekend. You know those dreams where there’s a “flavour” of a time that’s past for you? You didn’t realise it ‘til now, but the air of that time is tangibly different? That was my sense of that party. Great fun, brilliant people, love them, but to be home, to be here and now, and not then and there, was a great relief. Skin shed, skin found.

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