Sunday, July 25, 2010

scar tissue

Last summer it did not get hot in Boston until the end of July. This year, it has been hot nearly every day since May. So I sit this Sunday morning on my deck, barefoot in jeans and no shirt, enjoying the few hours of the day before the humidity will drive me into an airconditioned space.

I've got the newspapers stacked up on the table beside me and my feet are propped up on a chair that's facing me. And I see it, and sort of smile.

What I see is the very first scar that I ever got. I probably don't notice it more than once every three years because it has faded some and is in a spot where the bone leading to my toe can obscure it. In 1955 while wading, reluctantly no doubt knowing me, in the kids area of the pool, I scraped the top of my foot on the coarse bottom of the pool. Had I been swimming with the big kids on the other side of the fence instead of forced to stew with the wusses my age, this never would have happened. It's not unlikely, though I'm not sure, that the scraping was the result of my trying to circumvent the authorities and wiggle around the fence.

I can't recall exactly what happened, but I think it started to burn and bleed and some lifeguard or other agent of the pool told me to get out. They applied something on it. Eventually the scrape closed, but I had myself a little scar in the middle of my foot. And it's still t/here.

I've got a bunch of other scars too. On my chin, under my lip, on my wrist, under my arm--a remarkable accomplishment which occurred when the seat in a makeshift wooden phonebooth gave way, and I seared my arm on an exposed nail as I skidded to the ground.

I think it is a good thing to notice scar tissue every once in a while. The question is to what extent do you dwell on it.

Last night Jon Lester was pitching a perfect game for the Red Sox going into the 6th inning. He recorded the first out in the sixth and then got the second batter to fly to center for what should have been an easy second out. The outfielder dropped the ball. My cat Pumpkin could have caught the ball in his mouth, but the outfielder dropped the ball. The next batter hit a homerun for the first hit of the game. The Mariners went on to win the game.

The center fielder probably feels miserable today. Big scar. His error cost a teammate a chance for a perfect game and led to a team loss. The question is, to what extent will he linger on the cost of the error and stare at the scar. Probably be a good thing to be more careful the next time he catches a ball, but will his confidence erode because of the episode, will he think he doesn't have what it takes, and will his game suffer.

Athletes have to have short memories. Otherwise they will always dwell on their scars. But I think the challenge to remember but not linger and brood about our scar tissue is a reality for all who want to enjoy time and life. Some scars are tougher to shed than others, but we all have had accidents and sometimes have been responsible for them. The toughest scars to shed, I believe, are not those that are visible but those that we construct when we dwell on the ones that are.

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