I cut myself yesterday. Not badly. No arterial geysers. No need to re-attach severed flesh. Just enough to bleed a bit. So I did what most people do. I stuck the bloody mess in my mouth until I could track down a tissue and a band-aid.
For some odd reason — hey, my mind wanders — this made me think of something a high school English teacher once explained to our class: the concept of “me” and “not me.” I have no idea what this had to do with HS English, or anything else, but the teacher was my dad so I’m sure it had some relevance. Though his mind wandered on occasion too.
Anyway, he explained that we each have pretty clear boundaries about what is “me” and what is “not me,” even though they can differ from person to person. That blood welling up out of my cut was “me” or I wouldn’t have just stuck it in my mouth like that. Had I let several drops ooze out onto a spoon, I probably would have felt differently about it. I sincerely doubt I would have taken that spoonful of blood — my very own fresh, still warm and not yet clotted blood, mind you — and stuck it in my mouth. At some point, it would become “not me.”
Same concept applies to saliva. We swallow our own spit every day. We think nothing of it. It’s not gross or disgusting. But put a quantity into a glass and consider drinking it? Uh, no. Not even if it’s still warm. Because it’s no longer “me” at that point.
Same thing with snot. Drips down the back of our throat and runs into our stomach. No big deal. Blow it out and eat it? I don’t think so. Although some people don’t seem to be even slightly offended by removing bits of goo from their nose and eating them. Ick.
Ever bitten off a hangnail and rather than spit out that tiny bit of skin, you just swallowed it? Ever stuck out your tongue and licked off tears running down your face? At what point do those things become “not me” for you? I once knew a kid who liked to pick off scabs and eat them. Eeew. Obviously his definition of where “me” left off and “not me” took over was different from mine.
So, interesting concept, “me” and “not me.” One I haven’t thought about in many years. Where are your boundaries?