There’s a good scene in a really bad movie. It’s the 3rd “CARS” movie, from Disney/Pixar.

‘Mater is asked to hold still while another character pulls out his “dents” to complete an electronic disguising feature of his new found spy skill-box (I said it was bad). But beneath the bad plot line was a writer in a meeting somewhere (I’m sure of it) who felt something I think we all feel, especially as we get older in life. There’s a lessons-crossroad I think we all come to. It has to do with dents and scars.

A few weeks ago, I held down the ” I>” button of my digital camera. A Nikon AW100 waterproof-drop proof-freeze-proof-michael-proof camera, something I bought to take with me everywhere. And I surprised myself. By holding down the play button, the camera flashed the photos in sequential order, like an old nickelodeon. This past year, more than most others, was a pretty full one.

Lately, I feel like I’m living like I’m dying. Not in the cheese ball horribly written Tim McGraw country song way. In a nearly in-explainable way. There have been days where I’ve sat back with such a feeling of contentment and peace that had my heart stopped beating in my chest that very moment, I think I would have been okay. It’s a little morbid to admit that out loud. But there it is.

I have a sense that there isn’t much time left on this marble. An awareness that we’re all dying. Some checking out faster than others – but an inescapable we-all-have-belly-buttons one-ticket-one ride trip, nonetheless.

So 12 months later, I have these moments – these AW100 photos. But they’ve all come with prices paid, though. Scars. Gloriously beautiful dings and dents.

My crazy expensive Gecko-green Black Diamond backpack is scarred all over it’s once pristine exterior. I remember specifically where I was when I’d fallen backwards onto the rock slide we were scrambling over in Northern India. Three hundred feet below me to the right, a raging glacial river angrily rolling out of China. Three feet above me, tons of loosely held boulders straining timelessly to push out and fall on me. My best friend in all the world in front of me, and my heart beating wildly deep within my chest.

A brand new fishing pole tip, snapped like a twig leaving shattered broken edges from it’s top section. Where my son Caleb had broken it in eager anticipation of catching, cleaning, and eating yet another catfish harvested from High Rock lake where our camper sits. The euphoric look on his face holding that fish up for the photo practically shining with a fusion glow. Practically begging me to cook it (from the kid who wont’ eat pizza).

A hole in my $300 Marmot Pinnacle 15 degree sleeping bag, where the nylon got too close to the blazing warmth of the Popcorn-Tin-Wood Stove I’d built and setup in my tee-pee tent. All three of my kids were sleeping outside with me that night, eating candy and snacks and watching a movie on my Xoom tablet. The next morning, there were feathers all over the ground…carefully gathered one at a time and stuffed gently back into the bag (to be sewn by Abbey’s pink and white sewing machine).

A scratched up and very lost wedding band, somewhere in the climbs and/or descents into or out of Linville Gorge. Laying band-less in a hammock just feet off of the river bank’s edge, my 100 pound Malamute sleeping content below me, with me hovering a thousand thousand light years below the most beautiful stars and skies.

Life lived, leaves scars. I think most people spend most of their time in preservation mode. They want things pristine and pretty and shiny, all of the time. But I’ve learned at nearly 42 years of age just how much energy that effort requires. Life isn’t lived, preserving. Time passes regardless of a day lived with open or closed hands. Your pristine stuff just sells for more at the estate sale…just invokes louder arguments when the kids are fighting over who gets what a week after you’re gone.

I have one last photo, sitting next to someone I’ve waited my entire conscious life to meet. I sat and listened to him tell of his own scars. How the nearly worst moment imaginable produced the three greatest sunrises in his life. How could he wish that part of his life away, if it produced the three people sitting at the table with him? Some scars and dents live deep down inside of us, in quiet places few people ever see. We feel their ache daily- half angry at them…half grateful to them.

I don’t need a talking Tow Truck to tell me how important all of those moments are. But we could all use a reminder going into our New Year’s eve that if we’d gotten our 2012 wishes and resolution-prescriptions filled, we’d have nothing much to show for our cause. Just bright, shiny, boring, time-biding lives. It’s the surprises. The waves that hit us from behind when we’re smiling back at the people  – people calling us out of the ocean back to the safe and dry shore.

That’s no way to live. Especially if your’e dying.

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