Scars have always fascinated me. They start out as this wound, a disruption – painful and unwelcome. The healing goes to work, but in refusing to conform to your original design it leaves behind a permanent reminder of the moment of injury – your very own life souvenir if you will. Over time it’s no longer foreign, naturalizing to your skin’s landscape as if it was there from the beginning.
Whenever I see scar on someone I want to know the story, and there’s almost always one to tell. People can point to a scar and tell you what year it was, what they were doing, who they were with and how much it hurt. It can serve as a cautionary tale or justification for major bragging rights. In some cases it can be inherently more valuable – offering a deeper understanding of that person you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Today I took an inventory of mine (the ones I can see anyway) and realized that the most of them came to be before I reached the age of 20.
Age 8 – right foot, 2nd toe: little squiggle from dragging a canoe over my foot at summer camp.
Age 11 – left shin: from hot cooking pan dropped on my leg while attempting to cook bacon during the 6th grade camping trip.
Age 15 – left knee: from smashing into a track hurdle attempting to win my heat (why my coach thought I had the legs for hurdles, I can’t tell you).
Age 16 – right arm, halfway between the wrist and elbow: from slashing my arm on a rusty pole sticking out of the ground as I helped someone carry a keg.
Age 32 – left hand, thumb: sliced on a tomato soup can lid as I attempted to twist it off.
This realization startled me and I began wondering, have I become wiser, more sure-footed? Doubtful. Is my skin more durable now? Or have I simply ceased to have fun? To not take enough chances?
We all have a map of scars – some from the mundane, some from tragedy – others from moments of joy. For most of us they don’t take much precedence in our day to day lives – mostly ignored, just a small piece of you that didn’t heal according to plan. But what if you took a moment to follow that map? Where might it lead you? Maybe somewhere interesting.