Posted by: mpdonley | August 8, 2014

Making Peace With the Scar

The other day, a friend put a pretty bad dent onto the side of my grand piano. A total accident, of course, and he was mortified. I felt bad for my friend, and quickly forgave him. But the truth is, that scar was a blow.

Besides the house, this is the most valuable thing I own. The cars depreciate in value sooner than a good Yamaha piano does. And even though I don’t play it very often these days, this piano has a great deal of sentimental value for me. It represents a lifetime of work achieving a level of proficiency, and a greater level of joy. On it I have written songs, worked on arrangements, held rehearsals, accompanied friends, jammed with my kids, played duets with my wife.

I tackled Bach on that piano. Practiced scales. And sometimes, when the house is empty except for me, I have quietly played my heart out, just for myself and God and the night.

Having children, I expected it would get pretty dinged up, but amazingly it survived with barely a scratch. It’s maintained its finish, its tune, its beauty. Until last weekend.

Now, understand that I don’t blame my friend at all. It could’ve been me or one of my kids or anyone else who happened to walk by that big black box. He just happened to be the one who made that first mark. And while this would not be considered a huge scrape, the scar is not in a hidden place. It has the appearance of carelessness, like a casual knock that was shrugged over. It’s just there, and unfortunately I can’t ignore it when I walk by.

If you know me at all, you probably know where this is going. My body is covered with scars. There’s a huge “+” on my torso, sixteen inches across, eight down. Two on my lower back, one on my neck, two in private places. There are five on my face. Three from accidents, two from diseases. Conspicuous and “ugly.”

Every scar has its story. Its trauma, its recovery, and its permanent mark. I did not choose any of these marks, like I would a tattoo. Some of them were from silly childhood slips, some aided in saving my life, or at least easing my pain. They’ve all become part of my story, part of the reason I am the way I am.

A few weeks ago, someone said I had a dirt mark on my forehead. After looking in the mirror, I said, “Nope, that’s just me.” Not my scar, me.

I didn’t choose the scars I have, but from now on they are just me. They are part of my story, and I’ll tell you about them if you want. No hiding it.

And so it is with my piano. Another story to tell. This object has so many stories, so many hours it has filled or just witnessed my life. And it is no less beautiful now than it was. More bumping up against life. And that’s a good thing.



  1. I have a piano that I love, but don’t play much anymore. Lots of memories there, too. And, I’m covered with scars, sorta look like patchwork. I’ve come to the realization a while ago, that’s just me! Funny, we think alike! Thanks for sharing, though. Isn’t it wonderful we are alive to write and read this stuff?
    Big hug for you!

  2. Beautiful MPD! Thanks for letting us in.

  3. What a poignant, valuable post. We love who you are.

  4. Well said Mike. Would love my friend Ronnie to meet you.

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