I once held a skink by the tail and the tail snapped off. Stunned by the break, I held the tail between my fingers and finally wrapped it up in a wax envelope which I tacked onto my door. The skink itself lay sluggish on the bottom of the jar, began to reek a strong metallic odor. I thought it would die but it eventually grew another tail. In fact, it grew two stumps, one longer than the other. The lizard was soon as lively as it was before, still scaling its glass container, but one week, when I went to visit my relatives, I forgot to feed it and it died. An overpowering smell of rust permeated my room for months afterwards, much to the disgust of all the family members. I was ordered to keep my door shut at all times and my windows open.

Every time I opened or closed the door to my room, I saw the tail which appeared to be a dark whip through the waxy paper. When my lizard died, I took down the envelope and examined the base of the tail, where it had snapped off. The smooth and elegant whip had shrivelled black, stiff as a seahorse skeleton. I held tail between my two fingers, bending my fingers. The tail snapped again. I saw the white of the bone.

I knew that if someone snapped off my finger like this, I would just die.

Nothing would grow back. Compassion only occurs in a primitive nervous system; we are higher forms of life.

I once fell, running through the leaves, both hands forward. One hand fell upon a sharp piece of glass that severed the webbing between my thumb and index finger for half an inch, leaving the muscle intact. It did not bleed much. I found I could stretch my hand even wider--this, it appeared, was the beginning of something freer. The cut had a tangy quality, like a crack on the side of my lip. I would wash out the dirt with the tip of my tongue. But the wound closed up, healing without a scar, leaving behind only the tug, a faint sting. I learned another thing: the body does not want to evolve.

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