Running through grandma’s side yard, the wet grass squashed between my toes, just before jumping onto the Slip N Slide is one of my favorite summertime memories. I’d slide across the yellow plastic strip, water spraying from the sides until I’d go flailing, spinning on my bottom into the slick grass.
My rear would ache for days from jostling across the bumpy, hard ground. I’d just smile, raise my shirt and display my bruised back—my battle scars—to whoever happened to be sitting on the porch. Sometimes long scratches adorned my forearms, lending me even more boasting rights to the fun I’d earned the hard way.
Whether I was jumping off the limb of a tree I’d climbed, or whether I was steering my bike around a corner, hands waving in the air, I wasn’t afraid to take a dare. I’d sneak onto private property to check out an interesting cave to look for a pirate’s hidden treasure. I’d dive into prickly bushes or under a parked car to hide from the chosen seeker.
I never broke a bone in this rough and tumble play, but rarely a day passed that I wasn’t in my grandmother’s medicine cabinet scrounging for a bandage or mercurochrome. I cherished these minor injuries. They were proof I wasn’t a “Chicken.”
Occasionally, I still jump into precarious situations to prove I am not afraid—into situations that challenge my inner sanctum and threaten my resilience in living a peaceful, joy-filled life. I still flop around on rocky ground like a fish out of water, gulping for air. Once I calm down, the golden banks within view, I manage to slip through Fear’s grip, but not unscathed.
I find myself treating my wounds, but the salve is not to be found in any medicine chest or at the most renowned apothecary. Rather, the balm that soothes my soul is found in tapping into that infinite source of love that saves us from our worst enemy—ourselves—and infuses our cells with so much light that our broken wings rejuvenate quicker than a star fish’s appendages.
I do prance around every now and again, showing off my well-earned scars, but the prance is more an expression of my gratitude to God for survival and a jubilation of hope than it is of boasting of my ability to scale to fence and live to tell about it. It’s more of a dance on the sidelines where I cheer on those struggling to stay the course and attempting to shimmy up that rope of fear.
Sliding through grandma’s side yard was much easier than navigating adult life, no doubt, but without the pain, as Garth Brooks sings, I’d have had to miss the entire dance and well, I’m too much the daredevil to sit in the bleachers. I’ll choose to slip-slide away any day and earn my scars the good, old-fashioned way. The prize of self-worth is worth the risk.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio. Access more at soundcloud.com\lifespeaks.