The Death Of a Radical: Part II: Shedding Skins

Stephanie Fail

Would this planet be better off without people on it? With such a loaded question, there are many out there who believe that it would be an improvement. After all, everything living has an expiration date. This is one fact that if boldly faced can have interesting results in one’s life. It may affect you the way it affects me- I look in the mirror and feel like I am already dead. This sentiment is hard to shake. I once had an experience in a hostel bathroom. It was dimly lit by a snot-colored fluorescent white light hiding behind an ancient yellowed plastic fixture. I brought my face within a few inches of the mirror. It looked grainy, like an old movie with black specks in the film. Looking myself dead in the eye, they looked empty. As if whatever I was looking for, you know proof or whatnot that there is a reason behind life’s mysteries simply was not home. It was as if I were a stranger or an alien. A chill swept through me, which I quickly dismissed. I do not like hanging around with the demon Fear. So I remained, transfixed over this face in wonder. Is it not ironic that the one face we cannot see with our bare eyes is our own? Is this why people love Youtube or Facebook or reality TV? Does knowing what you look like really make one more secure? Are we more beautiful with our flaws cheaply masked by a half hour of makeup? Is fantasy more beautiful than reality?

The irony of that “man in the mirror” moment was that two days before I had used a glycolic acid peel- prescription strength damnit, on my face and since it felt like nothing was happening I opted to ignore the “ten minutes, then rinse” directions and went to sleep. The next morning, not much had changed so I went on my merry way. Days later, looking in that dingy mirror I witnessed what my friend had just told me- “Stephanie, your face is shedding”. The top layer of my face was coming off in sheets! Scales even- a centimeter round! I just kept peeling until my self-absorption began to bore me and I stopped and looked. The expression upon my face was blank, noble, yet empty- like a ghost or a memory. Almost immediately, my skin began disintegrating melting into invisibility revealing my facial muscles and fat, which dissolved into just my skull shining in the luminous darkness. I could see that it was my reflection yet still I had no eyes.

I peered directly into the caverns where these organs of light once sat and could see nothing but a black void. Then my skull began disappearing. At this point I decided to leave and headed back to the party in the common room, calm and at the same time bewildered. I had just seen myself decay! In the grand timeline of this universe, this life is so minute that I am already as good as dead.

Would this planet be better off if I were not on it shitting, eating, and producing trash? I do not know. Of course, it is in the better interests of one’s psyche and community to help others as much as possible. Yet will I ever be able to do enough to offset the discordant side effects of say, walking through the forest and crushing a trail of ants or by buying a laptop made with toxic metals plucked out of a dump by orphans? I do not know. All I know is that if I’m already dead then I have nothing to lose, except my vision.