On the Zen of Battle Scars

I had my first appointment with a new physical therapist, trying some alternative techniques to help with some recurring low back and neck pain. My spine doctor agreed that traditional therapies haven’t been helping as much, so we are looking into massage and possibly dry needle therapy. I am open to anything right now- I don’t want to stop moving and exercising. I saw what happened to my mother when she became sedentary; she lived to be almost ninety-three, but her lack of mobility greatly impacted her quality of life. I have vowed to myself that some how, some way, I am going to be a walking/yoga-ing/kickboxing granny if at all possible. I’ll give it my best shot, anyway. 

I really like the new therapist a lot. He obviously knows his stuff and has a wonderful dry sense of humor, to boot. As it was our first meeting, he took inventory of me, 

“Hmmm- what did you do to your shoulder?”

Oh, I had an open distal clavicle excision over a year ago. It was a lot of fun. 

“I’m sure it was. What happened to your ankle?”

Well, Easter morning six years ago, I ran through the house in fuzzy socks on hardwood floors that had just been waxed…all to get a photo of my dog. It didn’t go well.

“I can see that. You’re sort of hard on yourself, aren’t you?”

I looked at the scars on my shoulder, the long ones on either side of my right ankle (covering hardware that gets me noticed at airport security), the scar on my hand from an old accidental dog bite (trying to wrestle a dead bird from my dog’s mouth), the scar on my knee from the removal of a precancerous growth. I shook my head ruefully. I am not the most graceful gal…pretty darn clumsy a lot of the time. I have had countless falls, run into poles- even almost knocked myself out going to the bathroom in the middle of the night (closing your eyes as you walk through a narrow doorway really isn’t wise). I amaze myself at times. 

Those scars all mean something, though, and not all of them are visible. Some scars are on my heart and mind; scars from the loss of loved ones, of cherished dogs and cats, of failed relationships, of personal failures. Each of them tells part of the story of my life, and I consider them battle scars and wear them proudly. They are reminders of difficult times that I survived, of great love that I was fortunate to have. They remind me that I have been knocked flat, and that I stood back up to fight again- bent, but not broken. They also remind me to be grateful for the many wonderful parts of my life, to cherish those people I love, to be grateful for good health,  to never assume there will be a tomorrow. I don’t mean that in a fatalistic way at all- just a reminder that life is fleeting, and I want to be present to enjoy each moment of it. 

So, here’s to those scars that we wear, be they visible or not. Our battle scars of a life lived- not on the sidelines, but in the mad thick of it all. Symbols of strength. 


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