Today, one of my daughter's leopard geckos shedded her skin for the second time since we’ve had them. My daughter read that it can take up to 24 hours for a gecko to completely shed it’s skin, and it took this gecko only about 15 minutes from start to finish. It made us think a little about why it would take such a short time to shed when it can take up to 24 hours.
First, she’s a baby who is growing probably pretty fast. I think that would be definitely a factor because her growing body pushed the skin off easier. Which lead us to the thought that adult geckos probably take much longer (which is where the ‘up to 24 hours’ came from). Since adult geckos are not growing anymore, it makes it harder to get the skin off. Plus, because if they’re like most others in the animal kingdom, as you get older, you produce less moisture and elasticity. Geckos, preparing to shed, release moisture between their old skin and new skin to make it easier to shed. I’m sure as the gecko ages, it produces less of this moisture.
Which made my thought go to how it’s easier for the young to shed layers than it is for the old. Recently, I have come to understand ‘layers’ a little differently.
Last year, I did Reiki for a child for the first time, and something struck me as very significant about that experience. I felt like I hardly had any layers to go through to balance and clear her chakras. It felt cleaner, simpler, easier. Before that, I didn’t necessarily think of it as going through layers for adults, but now that I had experience with few layers in a child, it makes sense to me.
In so many ways, we are like trees. Every year that we’re alive, growing, learning, experiencing, another layer gets added. With negative experiences, traumas, heartbreaks, I picture it as adding a thicker layer that’s a little different than the others. As we get older, it's more difficult to see beyond those layers as they add up. We become creatures of habit, and the older we get, the more difficult it is to adapt to change, which is why children seem so much more adaptable and resilient than most adults.
For a tree trunk, a layer is added for every year of it’s life, which is why you can count the rings in a trunk to determine the tree’s age. Some of the rings look different and can tell a story of fire, drought, plague and plenty:
“Count the dark rings, and you know the tree’s age. If you study the rings, you can learn much more about the life of that tree. Many things affect the way the tree grows, and thus alter the shape, thickness, color and uniformity of the rings.” arborday.org
People are the same. We are the sum of all of our genetics, experiences, environment, nutrition and community. There are years that add tougher layers on us than others. Naturally, you can’t cut a person’s trunk and read their rings, but there are other ways to ‘read the rings.’ That’s where people in the holistic community come in, because they see a person as a whole, and some even have the ability to read those rings.
With animals and plants (basically any other living thing other than humans), they use their instincts and genetically-written instructions to help them adapt and evolve. Things like jealousy and greed don't interrupt that process like they do in humans. The very thing that sets the human race apart from the animal/plant kingdom is the very thing that has the potential to cause the most harm. This is one of the reasons I have such a hard time with us interfering with nature and creating "genetically modified" versions of anything. They were created the way they were for a reason, just as we were.
The trick is staying in touch with the innocent, young layers we started out with. Learning to use those additional layers for growth and learning, and not letting them become calloused or diseased by anger and resentment which poisons the whole system (mind, body and spirit). This is why forgiveness and love (and good nutrition) have such an important, life-sustaining role in our lives.