Returning to writing finally, now that I have some quiet time…away from home, on a bus and on the move. Out here, watching the world pass by my 5-foot tinted screen, thoughts come and go with the change of the scenery. It can be difficult to latch on to one long enough to ponder for more than a few moments. But perhaps that’s a sign that the brain is healthy and young – still. I can hope…As I rode through the southern New Jersey countryside yesterday, I took notice of the land and its terrain. It was a mild overcast day that would soon fade and fall victim to the winter’s steely grasp. The bitterness refusing to depart, reminding us of its power. Whistling winds throughout the desolate night. It’s been an unseasonably cold season. While I love the spring, I also relish in the variety of four separate seasons. So I enjoy the battle taking place in Mother Nature’s arena. It humbles me, in some way that I have yet to understand. But that’s okay – I don’t need that knowledge. The wonder is enough for me.
As I type, I look down at my hands, the hands of a 44-year-old woman, the hands I never thought would look anything but young. I see dry winter skin, and the beginnings of the wrinkles that strike us all if we are so fortunate to keep collecting years in our life’s treasure chest. I see a scar here and there: the scar on my thumb that I gave myself while very clumsily cutting into a log of frozen veggie burgers. That was probably 20 years ago, now! There’s the scar on my finger from an infection I’d had as a little girl in Kansas. Not knowing any better, I treated the infection myself by pouring bleach over it. It burned like hell, but it killed whatever it was that was eating away at my skin. I will never know what the affliction was, but I am reminded of a little girl who was trying her best to take care of herself.
Scars. We all have them. Some decorate our bodies in ways that cannot be masked. Some, we conceal with clothing, with makeup, with hair styles. Most have an accompanying story. Strangely, we often don’t remember the details of daily hours, but we never forget the ways in which we received our scars.
And then there are the scars that we can’t see. The ones on the inside. These are often the scars that can dictate our choices. We rarely know they are there until something happens to cause their exposure. Often they are handed down from one generation to the next, running deeply through the roots of the family tree. Giant elephants that no one is brave enough to tackle and bury, once and for all.
Ask someone about the scars on their body. Many people grow somewhat cavalier when they describe the way in which they received them. But ask about the scars of abuse, abandonment, racism, hatred, war, dependency, loneliness, violence, etc., and the words seldom flow. Why? Because the wounds have not yet scarred over completely, the knives still cutting. Agonizing and painful reminders of the things we have endured, all in the name of survival. The human spirit is truly amazing, isn’t it? We are born to live. Life does not yield without a good fight! If you’ve ever been alongside someone as they made their transition from life to death, you have seen this in their final moment of clarity, as their physical body fought for the very last breath of life. Powerful life.
Scars, whether visible or not, are a part of our story. They are unique and individual reminders. They tell us of a past in which we once worked and played. But they need not be dictators. We can only live in the now. The past is gone. Spend no more time with it other than to acknowledge it as a step in your growth. Even pain serves a purpose. We learn that it’s not a good idea to force a dull knife through a roll of frozen veggie burgers! We learn that although a loved one hurt us in the past, we are still very much worthy of love – Always!
Scars remind me of my past, yes. They do not predict my future. It is a choice I make to sport mine like a champ, a fighter who’s been knocked down more than once, but who keeps getting up. I live. I love. I learn. I give. Why? Because that’s what I’m supposed to do…We all have the freedom of choice. What will you choose to do with your scars? Will you cover them? Pretend they never happened? Or will you face the pain, accept your past, and let it go so that you may live and love now…in the moment? Choice…It is your very own innate gift. What will you do with it?