Scar Maps

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.



7 thoughts on “Scar Maps

  1. Very interesting look at scars. Intriguing line of inquiry. Every scar does have a story…

    On Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 9:05 PM, Hey You, Shorty wrote:

    > rharper posted: “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” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reminds me of a story of my big inner calf burn scar, that happened when we lived in Virginia Beach when I was 6 years old (1st grade)…Richard was being the cool big brother, letting me ride on the back of his dirt bike, but what he innocently forgot to tell me was, keep my bare legs away from the burning hot tail pipe! (I was wearing shorts, he was in jeans) …a tail pipe that ran along the side of the bike and would be a danger to a rear riding passenger.

    Poor Richard was devastated, seeing the massive burn on my leg (measured at least 7″ X 4″) – and mom and dad angry that he had let me get hurt like that. I felt even more horrible for him than I did about any ol’ burn or scar on my leg. I was just super glad he had asked me to ride on his bike!

    The darn burn stung like a son of a bitch, but heck, I was smiling – and poor mom judged from my reaction that I must be in medical shock, lol. But Richard, he understood, because when I hugged him tightly I whispered, “It’s ok, I had fun riding with you.” Through his tears, he smiled at me, and I beamed back at him – a moment I will never forget as long as I live and breathe…and someday hope to revisit with him in heaven…I do sincerely pray there is one, that takes me back to him.

    The discoloration on my leg stayed there for decades, and it was a story I would tell with bragging rights of sorts, having been allowed to ride with my big brother on his cool motorbike…and then I was sad when it was gone – no longer visible, because to me, it meant that I had lost that reminder of a great memory, of a brother I love and miss so much. Funny, I wish like hell that scar was still there to show and tell the story. No matter, the story and the memory of him lives on.


      1. Ooooop…snap! Forgot about that one. At least we had a bunch of state troopers there for First Aid, eh? Yep, house in Winthrop near Logan Airport (can’t say Revere…that would be considered a Masshole misstep, ha ha), and we had just gone diving and caught a lot of lobbies (lobstahs) – and I made mom’s seafood casserole out of a bunch of them – delish! But sorry about the arm scar!


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