Nicks and Scratches

Sea Bear is back on the California Coast. It arrived last week on the back of a truck, looking tired and worn, a bit like me after my cross-country trip.

I walked around the hull yesterday, something you can do when it’s out of the water “on the hard.” Lots of nicks and scratches are evident, little grooves that have to be sanded with very fine paper before polish is applied. A few will have to be filled. But no permanent damage. The boat is sturdy and can take a lot.

So can people.

Life is full of nicks and scratches. Some develop into wounds. We can polish over most, knowing they will heal and we’re no worse for wear. Others cut deeper and no matter how much we sand and polish and gloss, they don’t go away.

There’s a saying in the boating community. “If you’ve never run aground, you’re not a real boater.” What this means, I think, is if you’ve never overcome some kind of adversity in your boat, you don’t know what you’re made of.

I think this applies to people, too.

All of us have encountered adversity, either emotionally or physically. Sometimes the wounds heal, sometimes not. The important thing is to fight on, to not let our unhealed wounds take over our life.

Sea Bear’s nicks and scratches on the hull can be fixed. The one’s in the rubber rail that circles the fattest part of the hull at the water line cannot. It took a lot of the dings, the bumps and scrapes against old docks and worn concrete lock walls, but that’s what it was designed to do…protect us.

I think of those gouges as marks of honor.

The boat’s oxidized red hull—looking a bit pink—will be polished to a nice red shine. It will be back in the water looking as good as it did when it was new.

Like boats, we survive our dings and cuts, get patched up, and go on. We become better people because of what life has taught us.

And we sail another day knowing we’re strong enough to survive whatever life throws at us.

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