Some time ago, I had the opportunity to spend time with a couple of grown-ups in a private and quiet location. We were new friends and didn’t know each other well, but there was time to talk and get to know each other.
It’s never “work” that keeps a real conversation going very long. Rather, fears and frustrations percolate. It was during a few days of such conversations that I was struck with the stark beauty of my new friends’ scars from a life lived in full. In an age, where youth is celebrated as a matter of course, and people leave life partners in exchange for “a new model”, the beauty of scars is routinely missed.
What do scars look like? Tears running down an otherwise confident face when talking about severe problems with children or other close family. Lines from a life-time of facial expression – likely an equal measure of happiness and sorrow. Sometimes the scars are just darkness in the eyes mirroring despair with challenges faced by loved ones.
The vulnerability projected by the scars is the source of beauty, and the potential for emotional intimacy that they hold makes them precious to partners and other loved ones.
I saw this beauty radiating from a person that I didn’t know well, and I got agitated thinking about how all others including the person’s partner didn’t seem to see the scars much less their beauty. I started thinking about my own appreciation of the scars on my wife and life partner. I realised that I was equally culpable of not giving these scars enough attention.
It’s easy to pretend that there are no scars, or that they don’t show. In my case, I may have seen a scar, but would often assume that the particular wound would have healed – a convenient stance if I was the one inflicting the wound in the first place. Worse, in some cases, I would see a scar whereas my life partner would feel an open wound that is yet to heal and in need of treatment and concern.
I hope to make sure the scars on people dear and close to me are recognised as features of great emotional beauty. I wish to make sure they are indeed scars rather than wounds that still need attention and closure through talk and action. And I want to touch the scars and celebrate them as symbols of humanity and connection.