History is not linear; it is the rings of growth in a tree.
~ Guy Davenport, ‘Prehistoric Eyes’
I read once about a young woman with a medical condition that made it impossible for her to shed old skin cells. The result was a hardened, armor-like epidermis prone to cracking and, because she couldn’t sweat, a dangerously elevated body temperature. Her arms and legs were stiff and she could only bend her torso with difficulty. She was Ovid’s Daphne stuck halfway between girl and tree, the fresh wood of her new self at constant war with the encasing bark of her past. Rare as a physical pathology, the psychological variety is common enough.