Let me tell you, it took me forever to come up with a decent blog post.  I must have false started ten times before stumbling (somewhat literally) on this subject.

I worked with a rodeo team for three years.  Before that, I lived in my house.  Bruises and scars have never been anything to fuss over, except maybe an extra kiss from Momma.  Coach just looked at it and said, “Look at this one!”  Rule number one of injuries: Coach always has cooler ones than you.  There are two schools of thought when dealing with injuries that I have come across in my dealings with people.  One: help it heal as neatly as possible, we don’t want any scars.  Two: help it heal as messy as possible, these are our badges of honor!  I must admit, I’m more part of the second group than the first, I hate seeing my memories disappear, though I won’t go so far as to pick at my scabs to make the scars bigger.  I’m not quite that hard core.

But I do love the memories, the journal that is our collection of scars.  I have a long scar on my left hand that I got before Rachel’s eleventh birthday party because I pissed off the cat.  I went to the party—a pottery painting party no less—with the shallow gash still open on my hand.  No bandage was big enough.

I don’t think the skin on my knees ever gets to be more than a couple years old, I’m such a klutz.  Three years ago, it was a dance tryout: blister, pop, scab.  Last year, it was stumble off of stairs onto asphalt: scrape, grind, scab.  It didn’t help that I danced and played catcher on those knees soon thereafter.  The years before that make up the many attempts to learn to ride a bike, crawling up and down the cliff across the street from my house, and massive rug burns.

I have a scar on my right arm that looks for all the world as if I’d self-inflicted.  I didn’t.  I got it in Stagecraft (shop class for Theatre students).  The Technical Director had closed up shop and left for dinner not five minutes before.  I didn’t even feel the screw gouge me.  I just showed up to dinner, sat with the TD (who is still a great friend), and was promptly asked, “What did you DO to yourself?!”  My shocked look at the raised and bleeding stripe on my arm got me another exasperated exclamation, “This just proves I can’t leave you alone for five minutes!”

I even remember some bruises, long since gone, that were, simply put, epic.  A serpentine rope burn/bruise from my high adventure course in high school that began at my knee and ended uncomfortably close to more sensitive areas.  A toast-sized bruise mid-thigh serving as an accent to bepurpled knees (they kind of get beat up a lot . . . I fully expect to replace them before I’m forty due to extended and persistent abuse) because I tripped up the stairs doing laundry, then fell onto the edge of the stage the next day.  A bruise so deep, once again mid-thigh, that all my mom had to do was brush her hand across it for me to jolt awake, crying.  That was from landing on the corner of cement platform.  That platform dug deep into the tissue, I was limping for days.  The weird thumb-print shaped bruise on my arm that caused me to tease my roommate about abusing me.

The list could continue into forever.  I actually used to call Spring “the Season of Spontaneous Bruisings” because I bruise so easily, but so slowly, that I’d forget what happened by the time the bruise showed up.  Sometimes I didn’t even know what caused the bruise because I mark so easily.  Seriously, marshmallows should not cause bruises, even at semi-high speeds!

But there is an art to these injuries.  There are stories for them to tell.  Those hard-core kids who actually delay their healing process for the “better” scar know this with a certainty.  There’s even a song about it!  As painful as being injured can be, all the memories that come with the leftovers tend to be good.  I know that when I bruise myself, I look for the mark.  I used to hide them, but now I revel.  And that’s the truth of the art of scars and bruising.  It’s not the size or severity of the wound that matters.  It’s how we treat the memory that comes with it.  If we’re ashamed, and try to hide the scar, how can we expect to do anything but try to hide the event that brought it about?

The art of scars and bruising is learning.

Isn’t it amazing?