Posted in Live, Love

Baring Scars As Medals

I don’t regret the painful times; I bare my scars as if they were medals. (Paulo Coelho)

Life is seldom simple and I have often had to make difficult choices. As much as I have always loved to write and done my best to carve out the time to do so, the daily obligations I have to myself and others have taken priority over regular posts.

This time away has its drawbacks. Every day away from my writer’s notebook or the keyboard feels like a day that I have recklessly squandered. Not only that but, in the words of Michelangelo, “It is only well with me when I have a chisel in my hands.”

Like so many in the people professions (including and especially parents who devote themselves tirelessly to raising children), I have an over-developed responsibility gland. I must honor my commitments to those who depend upon me. No matter how much I need to write for much more than my early morning half-hour minimum (squeezed between buses on my morning commute), I must ensure that I am following my conscience which dictates people and professionalism first.

As a self-supporting family of one, I have many rights and freedoms that those who are partnered or parents may not have, but it is equally true that I do not enjoy any “divisions of labour” in my household. I don’t have anyone officially designated to pick up the slack or back me up when the chips are down. If it wasn’t for my incredible “family of friends,” (family who are friends and friends who are family), life would seem pretty precarious at times.

Taking care of my responsibilities to me (an accomplishment for a reforming people pleaser!) and still looking after significant others is paramount. It is equally true that, when it comes to my writing projects, I must confess that I am often daunted by perfectionism.

Not only do I want my writing to be its best–reaching the highest levels of awareness and greatest depths of understanding–but I also struggle with how and when to reveal “painful times” as mentioned in the quotation above. As much as I write for myself and idealized readers with the wise minds, tender hearts, and balanced temperaments, I am not naïve about the challenges of human nature and nurture. What I say or write can be taken out of context and used against me.

It is for this reason that I also want to ensure that I am walking my talk–holding myself to high, discerning standards while still giving myself and others permission to be fully human. We are all, to some degree, “people of paradox” and murky, quirky ironies abound.

In every day and in every life, there are those painful times that are at the heart, mind, and soul of what makes us human. As much or more than our victories and triumphs, they are what bibliotherapy is all about. While I have gone a long way towards ceremonially smashing my idyllic “perfection pictures” of the life I once thought I was supposed to live, it takes continuing courage to “bare my scars as medals” as I live the most authentic and genuine writing and reading life I possibly can.

While there is great strength and possible evolution in living and writing one’s truth (whether privately in a journal or on the worldwide web for all to see), I acknowledge that it is the pointy and piercing shards of those deliberately smashed perfection pictures as much as the daily distractions and drudgery that keep me posting here in fits and starts. As a perfectly imperfect human being, I resolve to keep putting pen to paper and fingers to keyboard with the same spirit (if not the same skill!) that Michelangelo put chisel to precious stone.

While still striving to do my best for the people I’m honoured to know, love, and serve, I will also aspire to write with the kind of honesty and authenticity that bares scars like medals.

With crazy-courageous kind o’ love,


Kalen Marquis is the therapist, educator and human bean who founded Kwil.Club with frizzy-fuzzy, green-nosed Kwil. He is a registered clinical counsellor in private practice in New Westminster, BC. He has more than two decades of experience as a teacher, teacher-librarian and school counsellor.