Buck Up!

“And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy.”–Kahlil Gibran

I believe in the experience of pain.

I believe that ours is a country of wusses but not one for wusses, and that if we don’t learn to cope with pain, we soon will lag behind the rest of the world in math, science, good sense, and guts.

I believe that anyone who counsels us to distance and cushion ourselves from pain makes a mockery of those whose suffering really is beyond their control.

I believe that allowing ourselves to experience physical pain helps us differentiate between symptoms that might kill us and those that will not. And I believe that if we intend to live a long time without becoming hypochondriacs, overtaxing the medical system, alienating our families and friends, or wasting our money on anxiety medication that doesn’t work and sleeping pills that work too well, we’d better figure out the difference.

I believe that our inability to distinguish between pain we should treat and pain we should work through has been cultivated by the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, and that our self-absorption and sheer laziness make us easy marks.

I believe in shaking it out.  I believe in walking it off.

I believe in the power of that scene in The Long Kiss Goodnight, when Geena Davis’s daughter tries to coax her back to life after she has stopped fifty bullets with her bloodied and broken body. “Get up!” the girl screams, repeating what her mother has taught her: “Life is pain! Get used to it!”

I believe I am an aberration in my family, my community, and my nation.

I believe in leaning into the sharp points– the all too public mistake, the world-ending humiliation.  They hurt, but they will not kill us.  I believe that pain helps us to learn from our mistakes. I believe that pain helps us to learn to live with our mistakes.

I believe there is no greater pain than watching others suffer, even when their pain is self-imposed.

I believe that inconsistency is just another one of the pains of being human.  And I believe in coping with that, too.


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