A couple days ago I washed and waxed my car. I am one of those people who thinks that a person should put a good layer of high quality wax on vehicles at least twice a year. Some 'experts' claim that with today's paint and metallurgy technology this is a waste of time and money, but I respectfully disagree. Cars and bikes that are waxed just look better than those that never see wax.
One of the downsides to waxing a car is that you see all the scars the vehicle has accumulated; the dings, bumps, and scratches that result from living life on the road. If a car were kept in the garage all the time it would stay in perfect shape, but of course unless the vehicle is a one-of-a-kind super expensive rarity, it's going to see life on the road, and as a result it's going to experience life's hard knocks, which show up as blemishes that most car owners hate to see accumulate but accept as 'life'.
I do what I can to avoid vehicular scars. I normally park in the further reaches of parking lots, not in the congested areas close to the stores. I take other precautions designed to keep the interior and exterior looking as nice as feasible.
And so it is with life in general. If we all stayed locked in our houses "hiding in my room, safe within my womb" as Paul Simon described in the 60's hit song "I am a Rock" we would never get any scars. Of course we would also never experience life.
Scars chronicle life in the same way that a trophy room tells the story of an athlete's life. A competitor can tell the story behind every trophy or commendation he or she received.
I do the same sometimes when I see the many scars on my own body. I see the scar on a knuckle and can clearly recall the day when I was 19 and an oilfield gas engine backfired as I was cranking it, laying a large part of my right middle finger bare to the bone. Every time I look in the mirror I see a nose bent in a bad car accident that happened when I was four years old. I had a broken nose but nobody knew it and it healed badly and out of line.
I feel the pain in my right shoulder and recall the day when I was a high school senior and my arm got caught in a spinning wheel on farm equipment. Or see some small scars on that same arm and recall the mine that exploded at my feet in the jungles of Vietnam - maiming the man next to me but somehow sending only small shards my way. Two larger scars on my back chronicle different adventures. One happened as a child - another accident on the farm when I took a bad fall into a pile of glass jars (farm life is wonderful but dangerous for adventuresome kids); the other scar happened a few years later on the other side of the world again. This time it was a mortar round, compliments of the North Vietnamese Army, that exploded behind me. It destroyed the PRC-29 radio I was fortunate enough to be carrying, and as a result had a less serious impact on me.
And on it goes - the many stories my blemishes can tell. The broken toe that resulted when I dropped a crankshaft on it while working at Chevrolet's V-8 Engine plant; the bad scar on my left arm resulting from a deep cut by a sharp piece of sheet metal; the scar on my left pinky that was the result of a fight; the three teeth lost in a skiing accident in the Cascade Mountains; and on and on the stories go.
When I was done waxing the car I felt a little sad because my two year old car is already showing the signs of a rough life, even though I try to baby it and protect it from the dangers of the real world. I'm more sanguine about the scars that I receive personally because I know that scars are like memories, manifested in a physical form. I love the idea of creating as many memorable moments as possible. If that means getting a few dings, bumps and scratches while traveling the road of life, then so be it.
Scars are like a photo album - a person should look at each picture now and then and recall just how that trophy was acquired.