Life is a winding maze of paths. Paths taken and paths left behind. Every moment we are making choices that lead us to where we are now, where we will be tomorrow, and where we will be in ten years. Our hope is that the detours we take lead us to further adventures and that the dead ends we reach do not take us too far from ourselves. Along the way we meet the people that will influence who we are becoming, for good and for ill, and by the nature of life, all will leave in some way or another.
Life, as giving as it is, as vibrant and colorful as it can be, and as dangerously addictive as it becomes, is often cruel and will teach us again and again the lesson that – all things pass.
The happiest day will end.
The saddest moment will fade away.
All things will pass.
And of all the things that will pass it is in losing those that we love that and those have touched our lives in some way, that will leave the deepest scars.
Most of us will fight the end when it comes, unsure what comes next, even if we hold to a faithful or pragmatic Knowing in our hearts, because whatever is next, when this life is over, it is over. We and those we loved are forever changed and there is just not recapturing of the moment when we were in the world. And the world must move on, without us, because it has to. This world was never for us, it was for the generations ahead of us and we are just keeping this place safe for those yet to come. Yes, we will fight when it is our time to go but when we leave the party, it is for others to mourn us. The hardest part for us is simply letting go. It’s the others that have to live with the scars.
And it is us, all of us, that live with the scars every day.
From the smallest crush to a parent, lover, mentor, friend, or significant other, we all bear the scars of a life that can feel crueller than we can ever understand. It gets so that all we see in the mirror some days are scars crisscrossing our bodies, like tattoos of our sorrow and pain. Some days we will hate those scars with everything we have because of what they represent – the losses, so many losses, of people we love and care about. We will hate them because they are a constant reminder of that empty place in our lives where these people used to dwell. We stare at them and wonder if this is all life is – a blade parsing out scars to let us know we were alive – or if there is more to it. If there is more that we can’t see.
Other days, other days we will look at our scars and smile because these are the marks of the many hands that made us. These are the hammers who forged us. These are the reminders of the people and things we loved so dearly that they became a permanent part of us. The scars become like jewels, sparkling with the memories we cherish of those who have passed. The scars become part of us as these lives had become part of our lives and as hard as they can be to see they reflect that we are real, this love we feel, this love we felt is real, and no one can convince us otherwise.
Ah, but we are a culture that hates scars.
We hate the imagined weakness of sorrow and pain and loss.
We hate the showiness of heartbreak.
We hate the grand mal mourning we see in our social networks and in person.
We hate it all because we hate the reminders that – all things are finite, and all things will pass.
We hate it because even the most shuttered heart and guarded mind has something that can bring it to the brink of darkness, the great funhouse mirror that will reveal all our scars for all to see, all of our weaknesses for all to see.
And those of us that have blocked all of that out, that have removed themselves so far from pain you must mourn for as well because they have cheated themselves part of the human experience. The bitterest, saddest part, but a part of what makes us what we are.
This is not a fair life.
This is not a good life.
This is life.
This is life and we make it whatever we want it to be.
If we want to make it a nightmare where we hate every waking moment, then that’s what it will be.
If we want to make it a dance club where every moment is a blur of passion and laughter, then we can make it too.
Some, too many, will lead a life chosen for them and will never know the feeling of life’s sunshine on their faces. They will never know the freedom to say NO or YES or to say nothing at all. Too many of us will never know anything but the boot, the shackle, the gun, and the blade and their scars will be all too real. Too many of us will know only the scars of pain, and never Love. And for those we people we have much work to do.
We have so much work to do, to make this a world we can happily pass forward to the next in line, the next generation and the generations after those. We have so much to overcome. We have so much to heal. We have so much hatred and bitterness and distrust to quash. And even with all of our scars, and all of our pain, we have to make this a better world for ourselves, for the future, and for those we have lost.
And it all comes back to that.
This is a temporary life for all of us yet too many of us refuse to pass without leaving their own scars on this world. They refuse to pass without making sure that this world remembers them, not wanting to plant trees as gifts to the future but wanting to leave landmines instead. Too many of us are not content to have lived and influenced and created and to leave scars behind to those that mattered most. No, they want so desperately to be loved, to be feared, that they would destroy the world in something’s name for the sheer satisfaction of having been the one to turn the last light off and snuff the last candle out.
None of us goes quietly though. All of us leave a mark. All of us leaves a scar. It’s all just a matter of whether or not we’re able to let go of this world when the time comes. Whether we are willing to leave with grace or if we are going to haunt this world long after we are gone.
It’s all just a matter of how much you love this world and those that fill it and those that filled your heart.
And maybe that is what it all comes down to in the end.
We are a species with the ability to love and share that love, but instead of open arms we come at each other with closed fists. We share a world that some feel ownership of and I am not sure that will change any time soon.
But we’ll try.
And we’ll look at those scars and try to keep the good memories with us. The warm memories to comfort us. And we’ll keep hold of the knowledge that even the most beautiful things need to pass away so that we can know they were real, because nothing is as real as pain. And those of us left behind have to carry on, and carry forward, and have to find the strength to keep working to make this world a better place. And we can, because we loved, and because we were loved and that love is ours and no one can take it from us.
If we live long enough we will become a tapestry of scars, a quilt of loss that will stretch back through our many years…and we will be lucky for that. We will be lucky to say that so many people affected us. Shaped us. Changed us. We will be lucky to say that we opened ourselves enough to love, and to love even if it meant that one day we’d lose those we love. We will be lucky because those moments where we can open ourselves, our hearts, and our lives to others will be the most beautiful moments of our lives. From welcoming a new child, to the moments spent with a pet as it took its first step on the bridge to the next phase, all of it means something. All of it is important. All of it makes us. We could choose to live in fear, and choose to spread that fear, and choose to worship at its altar, or we can choose to live in Love and do the best we can with it.
This was never meant to be a fair world, but it is a world with Love, and that is far better than fairness.
And the scars will never stop reminding us of all we have lost, and the pain will never be fully gone, but over time we can learn to love those scars because they meant we were here, and that those we have loved and lost were here, and if that’s the case, then how bad was our life after all?
Some days, like today, I hate the scars of loss that cover me, but in time, when I am ready, I will look and know that it means that I was lucky enough to have some very special, very precious people in my life, and that’s worth the scars.
(Rest in Peace, sweet Toxie dog – 2.14.02 – 7.19.16)