January 23, 2017 - 4 minute read

scab (noun): a dry, rough protective crust that forms over a cut or wound during healing

scab (noun): a person or thing regarded with dislike and disgust

I remember once falling to the ground as a kid while running. The impact of my knee on the ground combined with the frictional skid caused the surface layer of my skin to be scraped off.

A shock of pain came forth as fresh blood seeped from the area of impact. I didn’t much care for that sensation of pain.

With time, the blood clotted and metamorphosed into a drier and rougher form. I learned this to be called a scab.

The formation of that new physical material coincided with a reduction of pain in that area. I was relieved to feel that uncomfortable sensation depart.

But my relief was short lived, as a new sensation arose through the departing pain which may be described as uncomfortable and itchy. I didn’t much care for that itchy, uncomfortable sensation.

I remember once disliking it so much that I took steps to eradicate its existence by scratching the scab.

My scratch dismissed the itch.

I discovered a sense of power by successfully exacting an outcome through my intention and corresponding action.

I also experienced relief and satisfaction, for as the itchy sensation departed, so departed the negative association I had formed in relationship to the itch.

However, while I was successful in eradicating the itch, the discomfort remained, as the sensation of pain returned with fresh blood tagging along.

My return to that initial state of discomfort taught me that my decision to scratch, while satisfying in some ways, ultimately prolonged the unfavored state of discomfort.

The return of fresh blood taught me that as annoying and uncomfortable as the scab was, it was apparently also a part of the healing process.

After some time, the blood once again clotted and formed a new scab, with the familiar yet still uncomfortable itchiness tagging along.

With this recurrence, I discovered myself in a loop. Except something new arose that time around, which was knowledge as to the purpose of the scab. A new relationship between me and the scab formed as I understood how the scab was there to facilitate healing, and not just annoy me through itchiness.

So, I learned to tolerate the scab. I refrained from scratching, despite being plagued by the uncomfortable itchy sensation. I did this because my desire for healing and thus an exit from the loop bested the other options.

Sometimes I would no longer be able to tolerate the itchy sensation and I would once again scratch off the scab. Sometimes this even happened without conscious effort as my unprocessed reaction to the sensation would heighten to proportions too large for me to control.

Despite these small battles between me and the scab, the healing process continued undeterred. Over time, my cooperation with the healing process facilitated the reduction in size of the scab, with it being replaced by fresh skin.

Ultimately, the scab completely disappeared, along with the blood, pain, discomfort, and itchiness.

What was left was new skin that wasn’t just similar to the skin that was there before I scraped my knee, but skin that seemed more resilient than ever.

I learned a few things from this experience.

  1. That which causes discomfort may ultimately exist to serve me and my best interests.

  2. Sensations arise and depart. Differing sensations may occur simultaneously, or one sensation may be replaced by another.

  3. Perspective is required to know what sensations mean in the greater scheme of things. Sometimes time and perspective go hand in hand.

  4. My reaction to a sensation or experience may overshadow the inherit lesson and greater message therein, if acted out.

  5. Taking measure to stop a particularly uncomfortable sensation may offer immediate gratification but may also ultimately prolong the discomfort.

  6. My ability to withstand the tension of opposites by being aware of the discomfort, but not acting out destructively to eradicate it, provides the exit to an otherwise endless loop.

  7. Any failure of mine to withstand the tension of opposites and corresponding succumbence to the battle is forgiven. The healing process continues unabated, regardless of my relationship with the symptom.

  8. I may not, and probably don’t, know the whole story whenever I’m witnessing and/or taking part in something.

Today, I see many people in the world upset at the recent political events in the United States. As I observe this, I can’t help but think about scabs.

My goal is to embrace the tension of this current political climate, and use the lessons learned from my experiences with skin scabs to better relate to scabs that exist outside of myself.