This is an illustration by Gustave Dore for the fairy tale Donkeyskin — a wonderful tale about the sacredness of scars.

ear Miracles: I was talking with a dear one this weekend about issues — you know, mom issues, dad issues, high school issues, personality issues — all of the difficulties that the self-help industry encourages us to address, all of the problems we carry around while promising ourselves that we are going to deal with them and heal at some vague point in the future.

And then a thought occurred to me, as it would anyone who cares to look into it. What if we are really okay, just as we are? Perfect in our imperfections, and beautiful in whatever brokenness we carry?

I know it might sound too easy.  There’s likely a bumper sticker somewhere that says something to this effect.  I don’t mean that we don’t, all of us, have things to work on — of course we do. But what I do mean is that the standards of measurement for what is and is not normal or acceptable might be missing the mark. What are the origins of those standards? Are they not, for the most part, developed by clinicians and in clinical settings, and then adapted for easy consumption by mass markets?

Anyone who has spent some quality time in a clinic can tell you that the conditions there – and the systems developed under these conditions – do not fit with and account for our actual experience in every day life, not to mention our inner worlds.  Not by a long shot. There are indeed certain solutions or treatments that can and should help remedy certain serious psychological ailments. Yet for the rest of us – we should wonder why we accept their derivative products ‘hook, line and sinker’ as the ‘go-to’ solution to our general life problems.

I see that many of us carry around a sense of all the things we are not, can’t do, or have not accomplished — our cultural thinking has reached a point where too many of us feel irredeemable and would not know where to look for redemption or reconciliation even if they were concepts we accepted. Even though a lot of lip-service is paid to it, we do not really focus on what our unique talents, abilities, dreams, pleasures, and joys really are.  Instead we engage in the never-ending cycle of self improvement and self-depredation.

Now, I definitely possess a can-do attitude, and I am a problem solver by nature and affinity.  I don’t think that there is enlightenment to be found in chosen or created suffering.  In short I do not advocate anyone staying in a place of victim-hood or reveling in the wounds that we all of us have experienced. But I also suggest we be honest and kinder to ourselves. We are all flawed, all scarred.

Flaws are interesting. They are salt in the proverbial stew.  They create breadth and depth where before there was narrow shallowness.   Scars –  those points of maximum vulnerability in body and memory –   become the toughest most essential and irreducible parts of ourselves.  They can become ornaments that express the energy of who we are, or where we have been. This is why it seems to me that scars are sacred – they point to or signify our essential nature, mark us out as one, unique and whole being.

What would happen to us if we stopped trying to find a quick fix and improve ourselves according to the artificial categories and plans set forth by clinicians and their derivative practitioners in the consumer industry?  We shall always aspire and strive to become better and live more whole and more meaningful lives. But what would that look like without ten step plans? Would we actually start playing more? Stepping off the track, would we start enjoying life right now a little more, just as it is?

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