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Living a New Life

Musings of the Day

On Pain

Hear this post read aloud

I’m used to pain, both physical and otherwise. Having lived with it all my life, the discomfort, even the agony at times, has become familiar. However, approaching this recent surgery, my focus was not on the pain I would experience afterwards. All I was aware of was how perfectly everything was lining up. I bypassed the notion of pain in favor of the giddiness of anticipation of a life with less of it. After all, that’s what this surgery was about, giving myself a better quality of life going forward. Why didn’t I give pain a thought?

"Heart Warrior"

Here’s what I realize now.

I take my high level of pain tolerance for granted and assume that whatever level of pain comes, I’ll be more than able to deal with it. Perhaps in this case that was a bit foolish. This pain is excruciating. I don’t say that as a complaint, though I’ll admit I’d like to complain a bit these last few days. This is an acknowledgment of how debilitating it is, that it has literally brought me to my knees in agony. There is something I need to see in this and I’m finding my way through it now as I write.

I had an idea of how I was going to go through this recovery. The day of surgery I was on my computer working again. But as the days have passed the pain has actually increased and I’ve found myself lost in it. Caring little about anything else except surviving the agony. Am I a victim of this pain? It was certainly unexpected, so in a way I have felt caught off guard. But no, I’m not a victim here. It is to be endured, surrendered to and acknowledged. But the pain is not in charge of how I am experiencing my life. I am in charge.

That is the key in all of this.

"Creation of the Elements"

I decide my experience of life.

Pain does not dictate that experience.

Does it color it? Yes.

Can my life be a combination of colors? The colors of pain and the colors of joy and relief and anticipation? Isn’t that what I’m best at?

I am an artist. Combining things that don’t normally go together is kind of my thing. I use unusual color combinations, add in materials not normally found in paintings and make things that integrate many seemingly disparate elements. And that is exactly what I need to do here, with this pain.

I wrote something before the surgery about how excited I was, giddy actually. And that’s still true. Everything magically lined up the way it needed to and look at me, surgery is done and I’m on the road to recovery already. In no time at all. Now I have to incorporate another element into the mix, the pain of recuperation. It’s an element that doesn’t look like it goes with anticipation and miracles. How do I now integrate this level of pain into the mix and create my art, my life?

"Far Off Places"

As I write this, I have no real answer to that question, but I do realize that the question is really the point. Not the answer. Living with the question will eventually provide some answers, just like in the process of painting. I let the painting tell me what it needs, not the other way around. So now, I am going to listen very carefully to this “painting” I’ve created and see what it is telling me to add to the mix. The pain has to be part of the whole and integrated into it somehow. Not the whole picture, but an element that adds to the quality of the whole. Pain, like any intense experience, adds to the drama and color of a painting. It also adds to the richness of a life, providing empathy, understanding, and depth of experience. Pain is a natural part of living and to avoid it is foolish. It can be a great teacher. It can show us things about ourselves that nothing else can. Though I don’t choose to seek it out, this time it has arrived unexpectedly and I am doing all I can to use the intensity of it to create a painting, a life, that I never would have otherwise.

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