I’m spending more time outside these days. In the past office life would have meant the whole day indoors, with just a short walking commute in my work-clothes. Lockdown means I’m working from home but relieving the intensity and stress with lunchtime walks in the nearby fields or some yoga in the park when work is done. The weather recently is warm and sunny. I’m most often wearing shorts and I’m getting brown. I’ve not been this tanned since I was a child playing in the garden or since I spend my student summers in the Mediterranean.

I know suntans aren’t super healthy but I associate browned limbs with previous phases of my life, when I felt freer and more innocent, more energetic — and just a bit wild! Despite current work stress, I’m beginning to feel something of that again. It’s hard to feel like a responsible grown-up when you’re playing cartwheels and handstands in the park, coming home tired and sweaty and ready for bath time!! If my mum was here to towel me off and put me into my favourite PJs, I’d be in full childhood regression! 🙂

But my brown skin also reveals my underlying scars with greater clarity. White lines show up more clearly in contrast to the darker colour. Some of my scars are recent accidents. The white patch on the inner thigh where I dropped a carving knife which then stuck into my leg and fountained blood onto the kitchen floor like a low budget schlock horror film. And there’s the thin white line that isn’t healing from a scratch on my shin, acquired a month or two ago when I entangled myself in a bramble bush as I tried to socially-distance from a passing walker. These minor scars have their recent stories. They’re part of my everyday adult life.

There are some other scars that reach back further in time. One on my forehead from a childhood game which went wrong (and a rooky GP who should have stitched it) and the light cross-crossing on my back from crawling through barbed wire fences during my archaeological adventures in Greece what feels like a lifetime ago.

And finally the scars I hope no-one sees. How much are they physically visible on my skin and how much are they perceived by me alone? Certainly they feel seared into my being, whether they are discernible or not. These are the scars I am learning to heal. Some days this is what my yoga is, a practice of reconciliation with my own skin. There’s no cover-up possible when I’m on my yoga mat. Nothing is hidden from self-examination. And through this, nothing is beyond healing.

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