I’m Scarred

They lied to you about that fire part. There’s the “Great American Child Fire Myth”. Here’s how it goes although you’ve heard it. A child puts his hand on the stove for the first time and it hurts because it’s hot. And then he pulls it back and screams. And then HE NEVER DOES IT AGAIN.

That’s a lie.

(the Human Torch, drawn by the amazing Alex Ross)

Of course he does it again. Many times. He keeps touching the stove until it cools down and it’s no longer hot. That’s what people do. We touch things. We hurt ourselves. We hurt others. Then we get used to it. So we do it more.

If I touch something enough ( a woman, a bed of hot coals, a drug) I can even develop a tolerance to the pain. Touching can even cause something to be pleasurable.

We get scars along the way. Our hand might get scarred. Our emotions might get scarred. We might get afraid to pursue an idea because of fear of failure (the mental equivalent of getting burned by the fire), we might be afraid to pray because what good would it do anyway?

Soon we are scarred all over. We are afraid to take off all the clothes because of the scarring. It’s embarrassing. That scar on our face, on our hands, on our backs, our legs. We hide inside ourselves. We lie. Nobody can see the scars.

We remember when we were once young, unscarred, free from worry. No bills to pay. Nobody to run from. Nothing to avoid. No embarrassment that can be revealed. No past crime that would cause people to run from us.

We start to read the self-help books (and I’ve read them all). What can allow us to go out in public even with all these scars?  Oh, if we stand up straight! If we think positive! If we try to clear our mind. If we smile even though we’re really sad.  If we use “the Secret”!

All of these things are hypnosis to convince us our bodies and minds are not scarred forever. There’s no way to clean up. We were born, we get scarred, we die.

We each have the scars. I’m divorced. I have two kids that I hope will turn out ok. I suck at yoga. I have businesses that have failed. I have books I couldn’t publish. I have people I hurt. I have people who have hurt me. I have dreams that turn into nightmares. I have other dreams that I’ll never fulfill. I would’ve had a 17 year old child. I’m scarred.

(we're all scarred)

So I try to keep my back straight. To smile. To think positive thoughts.

But those are just hypnotic suggestions to fool my body and mind that it’s something its not. I’m tired of the hypnosis hocked on bookshelves and on the non-stop self-help aphorisms that fill the twitter stream.

The truth is: I’m worthless. I’ve touched the fire too much. I’ve scorched every pore of my body. The only way to deal with it is not to smile but to say, “it’s good to be scarred.” Nobody has my particular scars. Here is me, I am a painting of pain.

Today, scars and all, I’ll go outside. It’s a weight off my shoulders to not think of the scars.

I’ll meet and greet people. I’ll make my own choices instead of having them thrown at me by everyone else’s agenda (owning a house, going to college, getting married, having the right friends, voting, having a political agenda, having a spiritual agenda, having a theory of what might make me happy).

I’m scarred, I’m naked. I’m scared. I’m stripped. I’m the real me.

Hi. My name is James.

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