Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Life's Scars

“Thank you, Muse.”

I just had a recollection of a conversation that I had with my son’s mother subsequent to my presenting her with a gift. If memory serves well, it was a Mothers’ Day gift. Our son was quite small … was involved in all manner of tests, therapies, and training … all related to his cerebral palsy. One of his accoutrements was an elaborate system of metal and leather leg and foot braces that went from his shoes to a thickly padded ‘belt’ around his waist.

His mother was voicing her concern that the metal of the braces was doing damage to the beautiful finish of a lovely rocking chair that I had given her for Mothers’ Day. “One day, you will look at those gouges and scratches in the wood … and recall fondly the moments when we held and rocked him in that chair. Those will be treasured reminders of the circumstances and the feelings that are now so fresh and real to us. Let him record all that he can in that chair’s finish … for our later enjoyment.” I responded.

And isn’t it so with all of life’s wounds, scars, and bruises? Do we not have, at our option, the ability to recall the pains endured in their acquisition, with some measured sense of accomplishment … or at least a dollop of gratitude for our survival through it all. So, My Dear Reader, I offer this little encouragement for you. Please do not turn your back on those circumstances in which you find yourself labouring. Choose, instead, the option of embracing all of what is this moment’s engagement, with a spirit of eminent victory over passing impediments. And an awareness that, in some future time and venue, you will have, at your command, some “souvenirs” of these challenges, to revisit, and allow as reminders of your victories and accomplishments along the way.

So, today, and in all of your days, I encourage you, My Dear Friend, to embrace all of Life’s offerings to you. Fully know, and appreciate … live, and savour … sense, and indulge in, every element of your life experience without fear of or concern for the possibility of “scars” that may result from your allowance of complete involvement. For to live a life governed by a focus on “scar avoidance,” is to risk passing through life as an unblemished cadaver … absent any experiential “wounds”… but totally Lifeless. Your “rocking chair” may be show-room pristine … but the cost would be the loss of a treasury of memories and blessings. And what a waste that would be! I urge you to accept, embrace, celebrate, and enjoy all that Life gives you (even the bumps and bruises.)

And … yes, these many years later … my son’s mother did, indeed, remind me of that moment … as we looked, with a complex and rich blend of feelings, at those well-earned scars on that, well-worn, chair.




15 comments:

Judi FitzPatrick said...

How true this is. As Loretta LaRouche says "Life is short, wear your party pants".
The only time we have is now, no use worrying about the future of a chair or anything else for that matter.
Thanks for a wonderful post, John-Michael. Read you again soon.
Peace, Judi

Sandra Ree said...

I never cared how many scratches my children made on our expensive dining room table, on our antique side tables or even our wood floors...I knew that all it did was add character and memories.

When my boys left the nest, my husband finally saw what I had seen all along and now he says "remember when" every time we run a cloth over a piece of furniture that has the scratches and dents.

I have learned to accept, embrace, celebrate, and yes, to enjoy all that life has given me...oh but it was a long journey, John-Michael. And to have found a blog such as yours to validate what I have felt for the last twenty years...I am so grateful. Your words come across like notes on a page of music for me.

lime said...

you know it's interesting. i had a similar conversation about a brand new dining room table when a toddler of mine pounded the end of it with a fork less than a week after we got it. over the years it's accumulated many more "scars." and i am ok with all of them because my kids put them there and i remember them.

i'm also totally ok with the very noticeable physical scars all over my left arm from when i demolished it. i can look at them and say, thank you god that i was able to recover and gain back so much function.

i have to admit i've not really looked at my emotional scars with the same positive feeling or at least not the same depth of positive regard. food for thought. thank you.

John-Michael said...

Perhaps I have always been influenced by the mention made by tour guides presenting the history and character of significant nicks and scars left by history on artifacts that we now revere. Or by the close-up photographs of such notable signatures of the past in publications like the National Geographic Magazine. But I have not been able to separate the hushed awe that we allow ourselves to know when we regard the past of someone who we have no personal tie to ... from the enjoyment and delight that we feel when recalling the recordings of our own loved ones. The history of and lessons taught by others is a treasured legacy that I enjoy and respect. But, as you can easily note, I often have a bit of a 'different' slant on life. [smile]

I like your 'slant' as well, Dear Judi. Namaste

John-Michael said...

Isn't even just the littlest bit of validation a great encouragement and relief, Sandra? I know that I relish it. A lifetime of being 'the Odd One' has so sensitized me to the sweet balm of Validation. And to hear You say that I have provided You with some of that cherished joy ... well ... You, Sweet Lady, just made my day!

Lovingly ...

John-Michael said...

Oh, My Darling Lime ... You just prompted what just may well become yet another post. For, My darling, I have the recollection of a visit that I had with Fred, my good Friend who (with Gail, his lovely and talented wife) had a thriving furniture restoration and preservation business. On the visit in mind, Fred was out behind his shop ... beating the daylights out of a brand new set of furniture with a large chain. "Can you believe that anyone would purchase the most expensive and highest quality furniture ... then pay me an outrageous sum to destroy the finish that the most skilled of craftsmen invested all of their talents in creating? And all so that they can present to their world something that artificially represents centuries of wear and use that they would never create themselves with their limited involvement with the pieces. We call it 'distressing' the piece. And I am being paid an outrageous sum to create the illusion because the owners have never ... and will never .. know a 'distressed' minute in their lifetimes. They are purchasing 'Character' in the piece that they could never produce through their own privileged living experiences."

So, my Darling Michelle, you see where my mind is taking us. What some of us know as our 'distressing' circumstances, produces what others (who will never know the 'beauty' of living those distresses) see as Character ... and, from their 'privileged' plateau, they admire and yearn for the Character that our lives (lived in painful conflict and turmoil) produce. How's that for a sardonic bit of humor?

I love You.

Suldog said...

Lovely thought, John-Michael, and so very, very true.

I'm thinking of all sorts of my own stories, or examples, that might illustrate your insight, but you've done a swell job on your own, so I won't add anything else :-) Suffice to say, I understand the thought 100% and am grateful to be reminded of the depth of its truth.

God bless.

aims said...

My body and soul are completely scarred - and I'm happy with that.

It is who I am.

John-Michael said...

In "Wounded," I made an attempt to state my feelings on this topic, though from another perspective. Perhaps You will find something of merit in it for your consideration, Dear Aims.

Though I shudder with each new awareness of the wounds inflicted by life's circumstances on You, My Darling Friend ... I adore what You have made of those injuries in Your Spirit.

I love You.

John-Michael said...

May your injuries be scarce, your conflicts rare, and your scars but superficial, My Dear SulDog. For I would pray only the calmest of waters and the smoothest of paths for you. 'Tis but only the natural and normal response for One who is loved.

nitebyrd said...

This reminds me of the door frame in our old house where we marked our children's growth. I would have liked to take that piece of wood with me when we moved.

Thank you, again J-M for a wonderful memory!

John-Michael said...

Now THERE is an example of loving 'scars' that I would not hesitate to revisit and work out some way to replace, for the present homeowner, with a nice fresh board and perhaps some "incentive compensation." I do, indeed, share in your sense of a valuable record and treasure that resides in that bit of lumber. I am delighted that I could stir that recollection for you, my Precious NiteByrd.

Lovingly ...

Just Joni said...

the scratches on my tables and the dent in my bedroom dresser (received the first week it arrived by an over-zealous teenager dipping his guitar to the music he was creating) have not only been memories of fun times, lessons, and quality time spent together, they have also been reminders of how important it is to REALLY mean it when you say "It's ok...really, it was just an accident"...growth in character comes in many shapes and sizes...and we are all better people for letting children be children and accepting the worn out features of life as little souvenirs...it's the journey as you have so eloquently stated.

thank you JM...

John-Michael said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery of your "an over-zealous teenager dipping his guitar to the music he was creating." An image of freedom and welcome of a member of your Family living and functioning in a space that is receptive to his presence. I do like that! How nice. Thank You, my Darling Friend for sharing it with us.

I love you Joni.

Don Mills Diva said...

I love this post John Michael - what you say is so true and what a wonderful image of that old, beat-up chair...

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