I can’t think of any way my soul or my body has ever been scarred because of travel. In fact, my experience has been just the opposite. Travel is usually very healing for me. We call the experience a vacation—a time to get away from the usual grind. Sometimes we even call it a retreat.
Usually, when I travel, I am nourished, and my world expands. I grow.
I know bad things can happen on trips—accidents, injuries, robberies, cultural misunderstandings. But I don’t want to live in fear. Pain is always possible when you push beyond your comfort zone. By definition, that is uncomfortable. God knows I have had distressing and unnerving experiences on my various pilgrimages. I have been hungry, cold, hot, frustrated, annoyed, and angry.
But scarred? I don’t think so.
Instead, my inelegant injuries have been the result of puny efforts of a simpler variety. My first memorable wound was embarrassing. At age five, I climbed a tree in our neighborhood, then hanging upside down from a limb, by my legs, monkey-like, I fell—onto the barbed wire fence directly underneath me. Sixty years later, I still have that two-inch scar on the inside of my left arm.
My first broken bone was a year later in the first grade. At recess, I jumped from a bench, yes, a short bench, and landed on my butt. No big deal except that, at lunch, one of my friends pointed out to me that my normally skinny elbow was the size of a grapefruit. It was broken, and needed a cast. Why could my fall not have been from a dignified distance, say, from a swinging bridge suspended 40 feet over a jungle river? Shades of Walter Mitty.
I scraped a swath of skin off my right shin a few years later (in my own yard!) when I jumped off a short terrace onto a newly cut picnic bench. My leap was an effort to fit my legs between the tabletop and the attached bench. I did not succeed. Mother poured peroxide over the wound, then Mercurochrome. Then I received a band-aid. The scar adorns my leg almost six decades later.
No trip was required to do any of this physical damage to myself.
The usual travel maladies have afflicted my digestive and sinus systems, but no worse than anybody else’s. I have been in a couple of wrecks in which my car was totaled, one involving snow and ice and the other a logging truck. I walked away from both with no damage, major or minor, internal or external.
Scars, for kids, can be badges of honor. As an adult, I want to avoid real injury, which can leave deep, damaging, life-altering scars. In fact, the wounds that hurt the most are often those that no one else ever sees. I am at the stage of life where avoiding injury seems like a desirable course.
I continue to travel, but I stay away from barbed-wire fences.