This morning I would like to discuss pain with you. I realize this is an odd topic, perhaps even taboo in our hedonistic society where “have fun” has become the new “see you later”. We don’t think about it. We don’t talk about it. We avoid it (except, perhaps, those who consider pain pleasurable). We even avoid people who are in it because it makes us feel uncomfortable. Lately, I’ve been considering the notion that a little pain in our lives may be good for us. Not only does it help us better appreciate good health, it also reminds us that in the grand scheme of things we are feeble transitory things. Perhaps the attitude prior generations held towards self-mortification as a way to keep the flesh in check has some merit. I must admit I find the notion of heroically enduring pain as a means to purification somewhat appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating self-flagellation or ritual injury (nor am I in favor of any sadomasochistic practice). I am simply suggesting a different attitude towards pain may be healthier than our current avoidance techniques.
At first blush, it seems easier to embrace certain kinds of pain. I consider this category “clean” pain (e.g. sharp pain coming from an external object). As I dig deeper, I find it harder to embrace the other, “dirty” pain (e.g. bowels, arthritis, lower back). I acknowledge this dirty pain probably has the same benefits to our psyche as clean pain. And what about enduring discomfort, heat, hunger, humidity, bad smells? Those too probably have some merit.
As we become more accepting of pain, our ability to appreciate pleasure should increase. Imagine you’ve just gotten over the pain from stubbing your toe when suddenly a sweet aroma comes wafting by. Your new awareness leads you down the hallway where you suddenly realize the source: donuts. Your heart races, your pupils dilate and your mouth starts to water. Scott Leif (donut boy) passes by you as a blur having delivered the bounty of four dozen donuts. You take a bite and your taste buds dance at the explosion of flavor reaching them. Fortunately, you don’t need to imagine… just come on down (to stubbing optional) and enjoy a donut (or two)
P.S. Another topic that is a bit painful for me is re-chartering the club every time we start a new rotation. Our current donut rotation goes through November 5th. Unless I hear otherwise from you over the next couple of weeks, I will assume those of you in the “to” line wish to continue your membership in the club.