Embracing the battle scars

Here we go again…

I had just fallen headfirst down one of the trails descending from Col de Brevent to Chamonix in epic fashion (as I tend to do). Rather than jump up right away and dust myself off, I just laid there for a few seconds to let the pain sink in. I let a little chuckle mixed with a groan leak out of my mouth as I spit out a bit of dirt. This one’s going to leave a mark.

I must have looked ridiculous: cheek pressed against the ground, arms bent at right angles beside my head, knees kissing the rocks underneath and feet high up in the air behind me. I was the physical embodiment of a perfect chalk outline; a victim of my own clumsiness. I should have been really annoyed for letting myself fall – again – as it was going to make the next few days of trail running rather painful… but I wasn’t. In that moment, it all made perfect sense.

I run the way I live: against the grain, heart on the line, feet moving faster than the brain will allow. I sometimes get so caught up in the moment that I completely lose track of the direction in which I’m heading. I ignore warning signs completely. I tell the little voice of reason inside my head to fuck off. I charge forward and run full steam ahead towards the potential of something beautiful.

Sometimes it works out brilliantly. My most treasured memories, proudest moments and greatest loves have been the result bloody kneeof this type of motion. But sometimes I fall face first and am left nursing the wounds. My knees are covered in pink, purple and white scars, each one telling its own story of a time when I tried to reach something unattainable. I love each one of those scars, just as much as I treasure the more hidden ones on my heart. Without risking a fall every now and again, we would miss out on some pretty incredible experiences. Those scars represent for me the dozens of mind-blowing adventures, laughs and loves I’ve had leading up to that point.

After reflecting for a bit in my awkward murder-victim pose on the trail, I untangled myself and surveyed the damage. Totally worth it. I finished the rest of the run with blood streaming down my leg, which brought out grimaces from day hikers, but a knowing smile and a nod from other trail runners. That night, I threw on a dress that showed off my legs and strutted (limped) out to dinner, proud of my war wounds and ready for another day of running.

When I get really down, I sometimes wish I could live (and run) differently. Maybe in a less intense, less exhausting, less all-encompassing way… but I wouldn’t even know how to do that if I tried. It just isn’t me. It can be a curse at times, but for the most part, it is a blessing and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so here’s a little shout out to my fellow warriors on and off the trail. To all those who run, live and love with reckless abandon. To those who go all in and all out. To those who risk failure and those who fall hard. To the blerch-killing, ass-kicking, norm-defying men and women who embrace their wounds and allow their vulnerabilities to shine. To the bold. To those who scare themselves on a regular basis, but don’t forget to laugh at themselves in the mirror. To the lone wolves and the outliers. To those who climb high into the clouds without knowing the path back down. To those who lack ‘balance’. There’s a whole lot of trail out there to discover, so keep doing what you’re doing. Run, live, fall, and wear your battle scars proudly. You’re in good company.

Categories: Musings about life

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8 Comments »

  1. As the saying goes, ‘Life’s journey is not to arrive safely at the grave in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy shit, what a ride!’. Keep that amazing heart open. Never, ever stop being you xx

  2. Ouch!!

    Always enjoy reading about your travels and your travails Stephanie!

    You go Girl :))

    Cheers

    Bruce

  3. I love the way you take an aching situation and turn it into an example of the way you live life. My favorite line was “I love each one of those scars, just as much as I treasure the more hidden ones on my heart. Without risking a fall every now and again, we would miss out on some pretty incredible experiences.” I read this a million different ways, the scars may not always be visible, however each one has a story and is a stepping stone of life that leads you to your next journey. Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks!! To be perfectly honest, it was actually an aching heart situation (an emotional fall) that prompted the analogy with my aching knee situation (my physical fall) 😉 Falling on my face in a literal sense helped me work through falling on my face in a metaphorical sense. I think loving your scars is also about not regretting the choices you make, and also loving the path that has made you who you are – flawed and beautiful and eager to forgo a life of mediocrity. Thank you for reading! I’m off to the mountains this weekend, where I will fall some more and rise from the ashes!

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