Finding Strength in Scars

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Scars.  If you’re human you’ve got them, we all have scars on our bodies from one thing or another.  Instead of rubbing “scar away” or bio-oil on them I propose we embrace them, for they are the visible reminders that we are alive and that we have lived.  Scars represent something you have done or have lived through and just as skin regenerates we become stronger too.

I recently took a tumble on a run and sliced up my side pretty badly.  Yes it may not be the prettiest thing in a bathing suit this summer but I don’t mind, and I won’t be putting “scar away” or any other miracle cream on it.  I know that in time the skin will heal itself.  Falling was a fluke, a full on accident, no ones fault, my foot simply caught a sidewalk crack and down I went, like a tree.  I didn’t even have enough time to flail around or try and catch myself I was simply running along and suddenly flat on my face, groaning in startled pain.  My body was stinging, tingling and yes it hurt but the overall feeling was that of living.  I hadn’t fallen and truly been abruptly physically injured since I had stopped playing soccer two years ago.  Back then I was used to getting knocked around physically on a daily basis on the soccer field, but now that I’m not playing, even when I push myself running or spinning, cross training etc there is never that physical bump, that skin contact and that visceral reaction of “ouch!”  Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to boxing at a local gym. But still it’s all premeditated and no one actually hits me. Call me crazy but I kind of miss that “ouch!” It’s like a mini wake up call to pay attention to what’s going on around you, to be present in the moment and a very real reminder that I am invincible and that “it’s not about how hard you get hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.”


   I was once involved in a group “get to you know activity” where the leader asked each person to say their name, where they were from and the story behind their favorite scar.  The stories behind everyone’s favorite scar told you a lot about them, their pastimes, their travels, and what inspires them to persevere.  I’ve since used this as an ice breaker activity in groups I’ve lead and although at first it’s a question that catches people off guard, when it’s their turn to talk everyone I’ve encountered has gotten passionate about their own favorite or most memorable scar. In speaking with people about their scars you realize that they all have two things in common.  The first: Only time heals them.  The second: Although they fade over time that skin is never exactly the way it was before.  Little glimmers of faded scars remain even after years and years of healing, and the person has learned something from each scar experience.  Whether from athletics, burns from hot ovens, cuts and pain inflicted by accidents or other people or surgeries, scars express that you are not just a passive being in existence but are engaging in this thing called life. Even from a biological standpoint scarring symbolizes building strength.  When athletes build their muscles up by weight training the muscle fibers actually have little micro fiber tears that get healed and make the muscle stronger. So again, scars make us stronger! Embrace them!

I guess it’s fitting that my favorite poem, penned by Michael Ondaatje is entitled “The Time Around Scars”  http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/michael_ondaatje/poems/15882

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