Our Scars are our Patina

Our Scars are our Patina

Have you ever watched the PBS television program Antiques Roadshow? If so, you know that the worst thing people can do with classic old wooden furniture is to re-finish it. Doing so destroys the patina, the evidence of age and venerability. Though "condition matters," the patina demonstrates the piece's authenticity and history. 

Think of a new motel. Contrast that with a one-of-a-kind building in a historic city. In the new structure, everything is uniform and somewhat sterile. The older building may have walls with a waver or blemish in the plaster, or unusual cubbyholes or passages. It's very different in feel from the new drywalled structure. And people travel to historic cities specifically to see and to stay in beautiful buildings that are exceptional, unlike what's being built nowadays.

We can think of ourselves as resembling furniture or wonderful old buildings as we age. We do acquire scars as we move through life. We all suffer wounds, which either kill us or they heal. If they heal, they leave scars. We can view our scars as our patina, a record of where we've been and how life has worked us and worked through us.

There are cultures which do deliberate scarring as marks of courage and of beauty. 18th century German men sported facial scars acquired through swordfighting, as an indication of manliness. Yet we typically seek to hide our "imperfections" behind make-up or even plastic surgery, seeking to conform to a more "flawless" version of youthful beauty.