Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Yesteryear's Scars

"Get that taken care of! Cedar splinters reappear, even after decades," I was warned by Glen Snook, a self-sufficient man. In his 80's, a good friend, he was a giant of a fellow at about 6 foot 4, and he lived in a shoe-box house he'd built himself on Denman Island, soon after the last Great War. "Great? Ha! Nothing great about wars, or about scars for that matter, cedar or otherwise."

"Just keep going and never look back," Glen observed at the eventuality of my having to leave Denman Island. He was affirming; "A reason, a season, a lifetime." Time on Denman had come to an end. There were other things to do, oceans to sail, lands to visit. While there, my property, for all its beauty, had both injured and marooned me. 1996 was the year of constructing my own house, with a handsaw, right next to the sea, but it also was a year of my building a fulcrum between a past and present. (Come to think of it, does not each moment provide that fulcrum too?) So much loss attended the years concerning Denman, and the scars run deep. We all have them, scars that once felt a wound, and given the right moment, we pluck up their stories again, or we bury them yet deeper beneath the skin, cover them up, that others might not see.

When I carried the squared cedar tie-beam for the foundation I was creating I was nearly 18 years younger, bare-chested, and strong. I was not then in a wheel-chair, and though I had had my spine welded together with chips from my hips, some 20 years previous to that, I still was pushing the limits of endurance and tolerance. But later, in 2004, when titanium rods and screws replaced my bones, the old fusion showed it'd been cracked all along, so hair-lined that no x-ray had picked it up. Ha! At the very least the chronic pain I've continually experienced was given validity! Then again, within a year or so of getting the spinal hardware, I became power-chair dependent, now nearly eight years ago. And the condition grows worse. They said I'd not work again, but six more years of teaching proved my point; there are ongoing wounds and pains that need not hold one down, ha! At least, not until...

Too much personal info! Of what benefit to others that I reveal? I remember at twelve years old reading of a forlorn Romeo saying to Benvolio, "You jest at scars that did not feel the wound." Ha! Shakespeare was for me! After all, we do "take on so." To quote Socrates, "Of what use, the unexamined life?" (or someone like him.) Still, it feels solipsistic, an exposition of my own scars.

Yet scars happen. Physical or psycho-ma-logical, scars carry their own story. And mine, in the deep scratches of cedar on the right side of my chest, arise and provoke at me, repeatedly, over nearly eighteen years now. Each time the bits of splinters get scoured sufficiently away the skin grows over them and they disappear for sometimes a year or two, but then the tiny bits of wood remake their way to the surface, and irritate the heck out of me. So too for memories? So too for happenstances? So too for the choices we made? So too for the slip-ups and falls and the cuts and bruises of a lifetime. They resurface. The ones I'm surprised to see, among my many scars, are the ones whose origins I have forgot. Not because I am no longer bothered by them, but because they no longer bother me; the distinction, though subtle, is significant, yes? No pains?

We each have a past. We each have wounded and been wounded. And for some the scars run deep and cannot be ignored. Anyone public sees the unnatural cicatrix across a face, or on the skin where one 'ought not' to be. It is the deeper scars, those in the psyche that are not so readily seen. And even those can surface too. But when we overcome the past (possibly by realizing that all that was, and all that could be, was all that we could be, or we would have done other) then we can forgive ourselves, and so too the perpetrators of our scars. Sure, the irritant remains. There are some things that do not go away. Product presents itself in many forms, but attitude therein and thereafter remains our choice. Ha! My scars remind me to take care. Yours?

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