Sunday, September 18, 2011


Like most men, I like my scars. They mark a life lived, if not to the fullest, at least closer to the edge of that place. I have marks on my body that reflect some of those I carry in my mind, and I have others I can only vaguely recall adding, but they all tell me that I haven’t sat in an easy chair as my life has moved along.

There are other scars: lines resulting from worrying, from trying to see in poor light or too much sun, from smiling or grimacing as I’ve struggled to move something heavy in my life.

Scars are not beautiful on a woman, but they are "interesting" on a man. Women have them, I know, and hide them, I’m certain, and it isn’t something you study and say. "Tell me how you got that." For a man it is a roadmap of his encounters with life, with the losses and the wins, the symbols of overreaching or oversleeping, but never of just hiding out (though that can probably cause scarring, too).

Encounters with machines, fights, wars, stumbles, surgeons, all contribute to the upholstery pattern of the human body. I have them on my face and hands, knees and elbows, a curious depression on one ankle, and on places usually covered.

What about the ones that don’t show? Not the ones that will eventually, as increasing hair loss might reveal. The ones you can never see, never run your finger over or cover with clothing. We have those, too. All of us. But those are the ones most of us do try to cover up; show only at times most intimate perhaps, or most emotional. Life leaves us unmarked only if we sit still in one place and that place never changes. It is the place we think we would be happy, but only in times of stress and strain and pain. But in the end, we know, there is no such place for most of us; no place where we can hide from the things that give us scars. Still, they remind us we are alive, remind us we have lived. Scars are chapter headings for stories we tell.

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