Skinned Knees and Broken Hearts

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I fell down the other day. Nothing particularly dramatic. I was trying to step over a parking lot divider.

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My coat was sort of long and I got one leg over but just couldn’t quite get that other one to cooperate. Down I went. Aside from being embarrassed, I was fine. Later, when I was able to inspect my knees, I noticed that the right one was skinned and bruised. Then I realized it had been a long time since I had that type of injury.

As my knee healed, I found myself looking at the scrape with a bit of nostalgia. When I was a child, having banged up knees was nothing unusual. These wounds were signifiers of experience and adventure. I have vivid memories of wearing my red, white, and blue–striped wide-legged pants—as was the fashion of the day—and tripping, falling, and really mangling my knees. Such was the risk of playing while under the influence of ‘70’s fashion.

But now we lead grown-up lives with grown-up jobs that require long hours of grown-up sitting. Little time for activities that lead to skinned knees. Although plenty of adults continue to participate in sports or adventurous activities, we have lots of equipment and the appropriate clothing and shoes to minimize injury.

And I don’t mean to romanticize cuts and bruises. My knee didn’t feel good. But I found myself wanting to share exciting stories about how the scrape occurred. I spent a lot of time thinking about my little wound. With the scab and bruise, it was easy to focus on the experience and healing. Unfortunately, many of the bumps and bruises we acquire as adults are less visible.

My knee remained sore for quite a while and I had to treat it with care. The wounds to our hearts and soul can be just as tender, yet we are often less gentle and more impatient with this healing process. But each time our inner injuries are poked, they hurt and become harder and harder to ignore.

Too many skinned knees or banged-up elbows can lead to less play and adventure. We might become afraid; too many heart-wounds can trigger a similar retreat. But each injury and hurt tells a story. And the scars that are left remind us of our body’s—and soul’s—ability to heal. We often underestimate our own resilience.

But all wounds need time and gentle attention to heal. Ignoring a physical injury could lead to infection; turning a blind eye to inner wounds can be just as harmful.

So go play, take a tumble or two, and get dirty. Fall in love. Take an emotional risk. Then take a hot bath, bandage up your wounds, and allow yourself time to recuperate. This prescription applies to literal and metaphorical skinned knees.

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