Tuesday, January 5, 2016

just

would my doubt kindly
sing me to sleep?
it's all just as well
all just
just

if only i'd quite forget
that i don't know where i'm going.
if only i'd quite forget
and fall to sleep
and have my questions resolve themselves
subconsciously,
swept away by morning light.

sometimes i feel i'm swinging on a pendulum
waiting to jump off at the vertex to the left
or the one to the right
waiting for the appropriate height
but maybe it's the center i'm supposed to jump off at
am i missing the center of it?

and i realized today
it was silly to avoid puddles.
i realized that i should run through them,
go out of my way for them actually,
because what is the point
of trying to keep your feet dry
when you're running in a downpour?

i'm doubtful even then
wondering if my already drenched skin
has had enough
and wondering if
if it is all just as well
if it is all just
just

Friday, January 1, 2016

scars

I've always intrigued by bodily scars.  Like tattoos, there is always a story there.  Unlike tattoos, there is more than just a story there.  Because, every scar carries with it pain and change, and stands as evidence of errors made or risks taken.

Scars are individual topographies of memory, imprison and immutable on your skin, so a memory that is (at least in part) tangible, visible, within your grasp.  You can trace your finger tips over this kind of memory.  Scars make up the kind of memory map that can't ever be folded up and shelved away, a kind of memory map that is (quite literally) part of how you see yourself, a portion of your reflection.  You can never be separate from this map.

I have always been proud of my bodily scars, which I affectionately call "battle wounds."  To me, they are proof to myself that I was gutsy (or klutzy), but capable of healing despite my disbelief.  It shows me that I didn't just sit on the sidelines, but at least tried to join the game, run in the race, and even it was just I tripped over my own feet and made an utter fool of myself, at least it shows me I'm capable of more than just sitting down and watching everyone else live.  I was living, even if I made a mess of it.

Emotional scars are really just the same thing.  I think we waste a lot of time looking at our wounds and the scars they leave behind and think of them as these parasitic presences, feeding off our Present and Future, something to be mourned and regretted, something that proves us flawed and broken.  I think we look at our scarred and broken places and think of them as things that keep us from living, when in truth they are what propel us to live.  I think we so often look at scars and think that they alienate us from others, are things we should hide and be ashamed of, things we need to explain away and apologize for, when they might just actually be the things that bind us to each other more than anything else.

I do often find myself looking at the scars on my heart & in my mind, the scars pervading my porcelain sense of self-worth, and thinking of the scar as something I wish was gone and away.  I see the scar as a crack in my weak presence (or evidence of my weakness), and impossibly wishing myself to be impossibly flawless.  How boring that would be. How bland a life it would be if we were scar free, without any sort of wound or struggling.  Even though I think I want that, in my heart of hearts, I know that would be truly hollow way to live.

Before the scar is formed, in the open-wound stage, it is hard to think this way.  With a bodily wound, your skin is stretching to zip and seal itself back up.  Your flexibility in that area is compromised, and you are oh-too-aware of the fact that you were hurt, and not quite whole now.  And you will not ever be the same - that is the truth of it.  Our body is incredible that it can fix itself up, but it cannot erase the wound entirely.  I think this one of the genius elements of the way the human body is created, that scars remain, because the scars we have from former wounds stand as reminders when we're healing from a new, and present wound that we will in fact heal.  It builds up a sense of faith in our becoming.

With a emotional wound, maybe it is our heart and spirit that is stretching to zip and seal itself back up.  It will almost always take longer than the skin to fix itself, and hence our flexibility in our thoughts and in the way we love may take quite a bit longer to revive itself back to functionality.  And, as with the skin, you will not ever be the same.  But, again, the scars stand as reminders that our heart will heal, and so will our mind, but we are changed by that which caused us pain. And change gets a bad rap, but it isn't always a "bad" thing, in fact most times, although we don't like it much, it isn't a "bad" thing at all.

If nothing else, a scar reminds you that you can bleed (literally and figuratively).  I often drift into some sort of numb, neutral autopilot in life, so grooved into routine and my "to do" lists that I am not really feeling anything at all.  Sometimes it is accidental that I fall into this, but sometimes it is subliminally intentional - a sort of self preservation.  It is easier to be in robotic numbness than it is to face the various questions and fears clawing at my insides.  So bleeding every once in a while is the only way to shake me out of this, to remind me to live, to remind me to live the questions.  Wounds shake you back into wakefulness and thankfulness, and the scar stays behind to remind you of a time when life hurt more, but also of how the pain does recede in time.

One of my best-known bodily scars, is this little triangle shape on my knee that I got when I was about seven years old.  As it healed up I was told several times by adults that "we should have put a butterfly stitch on that...it's going to scar for sure."  That was the first moment I remember thinking that "scars are bad," "scars are to be regretted," "scars should be avoided."  And it wasn't until recently that I have stopped seeing scars in this negative light.

The story behind this scar is that it was obtained in for "unnecessary" reasons.  I was just running around a corner on my elementary school campus, for no reason other than it felt good to run and to be eager to be going somewhere, and not thinking too much about what might be around the corner.  What was around the corner was a patch of gravel, which I slipped and fell in.  I took the impact on my knee, and started bleeding immediately.  So, the wound has no glamorous or heroic story, it was more a tale of klutziness, but when I look at the scar I think "there was a time when I wasn't so fearful of what might be around the corner."  I look at this scar and long to grow back into that state of dauntlessness (or ignorance) - where I run around the corner without fearing about what might be m

I think that if you aren't getting a scar every once in a while (bodily or otherwise), you aren't quite doing it right.  It does not do to do the safe and easy all the time, and scars stand as the decor to your life fabric that make your life uniquely yours.  So, I hope you make mistakes this year, I hope you get wounded and have some scars to decor your life, and remind you that you are risking to live.

As Rilke says, "live the questions" and I think he'd agree to extend this to say "live your scars" too.