• Bob Hinrichs

Scars: Life Lived, Not Life Lost



Let me tell you, I'm fucking fascinated by scars. I absolutely love them. Don't get me wrong, I'm no masochist or sadist. I don't wish ill health on myself or anyone.


But I still love scars. Let me tell you why.


They are a story.


Every scar has a story. We've all had that time with friends, family or that random stranger comparing the battle wounds of life.


The stories can be funny, they can be sad, they can be embarrassing. They make us squirm, they make us laugh, they make us stand in awe.


Whatever the outcome, there is always a story behind a scar.


I've got a handful of scars myself. I've collected a few battle wounds in this life. I'm totaling two scar-inducing surgeries, five broken bones, one torn tendon, and plenty of marks on my skin from every other part in life.


And I love to tell the stories of each and every one of my scars.


My "go-to" scar is the ugly looking damage left behind after tearing a tendon and the resulting surgery. Have I told you about the time that I was saving the pontoon boat from sure destruction and carnage by throwing myself in between it and the dock? Like any good hero, I saved the boat, but I was also impaled and left with a bloody mess. It's a gross story, but damn, is it a good one.


(Mind you, the above story is the real one, not the bullshit [and arguably better] story about my days in the semiprofessional PBR bull riding circuit over in South Dakota. Of course, I'm not quite the right height and weight for the pros, so I was stuck in the semiprofessional league. And at one rodeo, I was riding the bull Grey Wind and had a nasty run in with a hoof and my ankle....but this is a story for another time...)


There is nothing quite like recounting how you were a hero. Or how you got too drunk. Or how that table came out of nowhere. Or how you saved the kitten. Or how you had cancer. Whatever the outcome, scars have stories. Good stories, sad stories, intriguing stories, or scary stories. And if there is one thing true of the world, it's that everyone loves a good story.


They are a lesson.


Scars are more than a story at the bar. They're more than chest puffing bravado.


If we look hard enough, there is always a lesson packed into the scar-forming story. Maybe a lesson about our own stupidity. Maybe a lesson about the world. Maybe a lesson about bull riding. Maybe a lesson about what we should do. Or a lesson about what not to do.


Whatever the scar, and whether we readily see it or not, there is always a nugget of wisdom to be found.


We learn something about ourselves and the world. We learn what we should do. Or we learn what we shouldn't do.


A scar proves that we've experienced something. Whatever we've experienced has left a mark. Any moment in life that leaves a mark must have been a sizable moment, so there is absolutely a nugget of growth packed into that bit of life.


They are a permanent reminder.


I absolutely love the permanency of scars. You can't wash them off and you can't turn back time to undo them. They're there!


It's like a tattoo. With the glaring exception that this "tattoo" probably doesn't have the forethought or artistic inspiration as any other ink on your body.


A scar is there for the long haul. Some people try to cover them up and hide them, but honestly, I think they should be worn as a badge of honor. Just like a tattoo, a scar is a mark on the body that says:


On this day, at this time, this happened to me I learned [ X ] This this is my reminder

There is nothing better than having a permanent tattoo-like reminder on your body, for you and for the world. It's like a billboard attached to your body, telling everyone: a) I'm the kind of person that lives life, b) I've got a story, c) here is your invitation to ask about my story, d) oh and by the way, this is what I learned while doing it.


They prove our humanity.


Maybe my favorite part of scars is the fact they prove to us we're human. I mean that in a few ways. They show us that we make mistakes, we have failures and we occasionally fuck up. If we were perfect and never made mistakes, we'd have unblemished bodies.


Whether our scar came from a "mistake" or a "failure" or any other reason, it shows that we're comfortable putting it all on the line. We're comfortable taking a risk or pushing the envelope in life. We're comfortable putting ourselves out there.


In my humble opinion, an unblemished body isn't "perfect". It's a sign that somebody hasn't taken enough risk and put themselves in situations where they might fail. After all, you never truly know what you're capable of until you know what you're not capable of. Equally so, you never learn unless you do things you've never done.


Doing the "new things in life" pushes the envelope of what we know. When we do new things, we sometimes fail. And when we fail, we sometimes get hurt, leading to scars.


Scars are a sign of life lived, not life lost.


A scar is a sign that we're human. Part of being human is pushing through what's uncomfortable and new. It's persisting, even through the fuck ups and failures.


After all is said and done, whether we succeeded of we failed, a scar gives the one last gift of reminding us that we're still alive. Whatever caused the cut didn't kill us. We have another day above dirt. We have one more moment to live life.


We are human, and we fail. But because we have a scar, a story, and a reminder, we know that we are still alive. The scar didn't kill us. It takes more to stop us than whatever the hell caused our injury.


A scar shows our humanity by forcing the questions: "is what caused this scar worthy of the fear I held prior? Or am I capable of so much more than what had previously caused me fear?"


A scar shows us that we are human. It shows us that we "failed". And it shows us that whatever caused it didn't kill us, so it can't be so bad.


Stories, lessons, reminders and humanity. I fucking love scars. My challenge for you: go create a few more scars. Go push the envelope of your life.



Scars stand as a testament that we are resilient.

We have more life to live.

We have more risks to take.

We haven't been stopped yet.

We are capable of more.

We have more scars to collect.


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