I have a friend who is wonderfully strange and tender, beautiful and wise. My friend’s name is Mar.
Not long ago, Mar shared on social media a photo of bare legs. More to the point, they were bare legs covered in bruises. They were Mar’s own legs, battered and bruised from moving into a new home. And they reminded my friend of the good old roller derby days when bruises and bumps were a daily occurrence and much more massive than those showing in that particular picture.
But Mar was thankful for these latest bruises because of the memories they brought back, particularly the remembrance of being out there, participating in the sport, taking the hits for the team – how it was about throwing oneself into the game, body and soul. And then Mar went on to explain how the bruising was a personal joy all through the healing process as well – because it was visible proof of survival, and the colors of renewal. What began in blacks and purples and the hugeness of good sore bruises, evolved and lightened as they got smaller and less noticeable, less sensitive, less intense, and they became the literal visibility and physicality of healing.
I was quite smitten with Mar’s observations, especially when applied to life in its broader sense. Because I suspect that, instinctively, we try to avoid bruises – the hits and smacks and jabs and injuries that life can throw at us – even though they are, in the end, inevitable.
And when they do happen to us, I suspect we try to hide them. We certainly don’t often stop to celebrate them as perhaps we should – as proof that we are participating fully in life, that we are engaging it wholeheartedly, without reserve, with courage and anticipation, playing our part unhesitatingly, giving our best.
Perhaps we simply forget to accept the fact that we may come out of the game a bit worn out and torn up and ragged, with scrapes and cuts and bumps and scars, and with amazingly colorful bruises.
We are wonderfully resilient after all, you and I. From kicked shins to punched hearts. So I suspect that we should be prouder of our bruises. Perhaps we should find more joy in those color flags that represent our proof of life – our proof of striving, of survival – the brilliant full-color stripes of healing, while the injuries themselves are allowed to fade into memory.
But I suspect there are bruises in life that are more meaningful than others, more significant, more intentional: like when we put ourselves out there for matters of principle rather than points to score; when we take one for the team and the team is one human being; when we stand firm and absorb the punch that protects any other living being, or another species, or another form or way of life – because it is simply the right thing to do and because we can.
I suspect those are the bruises we should all celebrate most of all – whether they show up on our own selves or on the beings of others.
Writer Albert Camus believed that we should: “Live to the point of tears.” Perhaps he was right. Perhaps he meant that if we don’t, our tears might be shed in very dark, very lonely places.
But I suspect that we could at least consider living to the point of bruises. And to celebrate the bruising … the living, the hurting, the courage, the surviving, the healing and the grace of it all.