Category: Whatever (Page 2 of 7)
Though not a subject I speak about very much–if at all–recent conversations with friends and family have gotten me thinking about the role chronic pain plays in my life.
Hi, my name is Sean, and I experience chronic pain.
Notice I said experience, rather than suffer. To me, this is an important distinction that makes dealing with the pain far easier than it might be otherwise. I guess in my mind, experience is something that happens to you–something you have little control over and something that life has bequeathed to you. Suffering on the other hand, is optional.
First, some background: in late 2000 I was in a rather serious car accident. A mini-van t-boned me as I was turning left. The collision snapped my car around, smashed my head into the steering wheel and pinched my knee and ankle between the door and steering column. Most of this I know only from after-action reports, as I remember nothing of the accident save the mini-van’s headlights in my left window–I saw those out of the corner of my eye the instant before being struck, and had nightmares about them for years.
I was lucky. If my car had been struck six inches further back, I’d not be here writing about it. Eating mini-van grill at 60 km/h isn’t something most people survive.
I ended up with two blown disks, one in my back and one in my neck. The accident also left me with nerve damage in my lower back. It’s this nerve damage that continues to haunt me even after most of the other injuries have healed. Because of it my body is constantly telling me that something’s wrong with my left side–sometimes it whispers, and sometimes it screams, but it’s never quiet.
It took me some time to recognize this, as there were a variety of other aches and pains I had to heal from, and that too was for the best. I was laid up for a month, and spent another two in physio learning to walk again after the damage to my left ankle and tendons. By the time I realized that the ‘phantom pain’ was lingering, I’d begun to accept some of the limitations resulting from the accident.
Even more than my own recognition of the lingering after-effects though were two examples of perseverance regardless of physical pain and discomfort. The first was a friend from high school, who despite her youth overcame the pain of her leukemia treatments to experience life more fully than I ever could. Even though she eventually lost her battle, it was an amazing testament for what a zest for life can accomplish, regardless of what your body tells you.
My second example is my aunt. Despite her lupus she has been a blazing beacon of optimism in my family’s lives. My father especially is in awe with her selflessness and perseverance, and indeed optimism in the face of some incredible physical challenges. I can’t say that she’d necessarily agree to the distinction between experiencing and suffering, but I can only thank her for the inspiration and example she has provided me in my own journey.
Because in the end that’s what life is. On every road there are hills to climb and valley’s to ford, and every one of them has meaning and value and lessons to be learned. Each experience is one more piece to the puzzle that life is, and if you spent that journey lamenting about the life you live, how can you ever be happy? No body knows how many days we have on this earth, and I for one have little interest in suffering through the rest of them.
Pain is a part of my life, and though I don’t relish it, neither do I suffer it. I accept it as an experience, and savor it as proof that life can be fragile, but is always valuable. I can’t say that I wouldn’t be a little sad if I woke up tomorrow pain free–for that reminder would be gone, and with it, perhaps something that brings the value of my life into sharp relief would be gone too.
For all of that however, I could never have grown to accept, and continue to experience my life with pain without the love and understanding of my family and friends. Many thanks are owed to my aunt for her example and inspiration, but many more to my daughter, who is always understanding of her father’s occasional failure to stave off grouchiness. Thanks also to my parents, who have been supportive in every way possible. And also to one of my oldest and dearest friends, who never takes my pain as an excuse when he drags my fat ass off the couch to go bike riding.
If my life as it is today were a song, it would be a ballad of pain, but not a sad one. There is triumph in not letting it stop me from living.
For those of you out there who also experience chronic pain, I can’t say if my worldview is right, or even right for you, but I can say there is hope, because there is still life. And if you take one thing from my ramblings, it would be this:
Suffering is optional.
My daughter turned five this morning. I sometimes have a hard time believing it’s been five years already. When I look back at all that’s happened in my life since she was born–changing jobs, moving houses, getting divorced, finally taking some positive financial and personal steps–well, lets just say its been a pretty full five years.
Nonetheless, I’ve been happy, and productive and as always, don’t regret a damned thing.
And best of all, I’ve had the opportunity to spend five years watching my darling baby grow into a smart and well-adjusted kindergartner.
It’s been worth it.
Happy birthday sweetheart!
c·p·u·i·cide /siːpiːˈyuːisaid/ noun, -cid·ed, -cid·ing.
1. the intentional destruction of one’s own computer equiptment: They beat the printer with a baseball bat; it was cpuicide.
2. the self-destruction of one’s computer: First the fan went, then the whole thing committed cpuicide.
Hey, I’m not a fisherman or work the rigs, but I served in the Canadian Forces. I live in a townhouse and own a car, but I’d like to reduce my carbon footprint.
My parents were married when I was born, but one’s from Sri Lanka and the other from Price Edward Island. I’m a divorced, second-generation immigrant with bad credit.
My daughter is Albertan, but I’m still and Islander. The mountains are nice, but the ocean’s cooler.
I believe in peacekeeping, not policing Afghanistan.
I prefer Canadian beer, but will drink an Australian red in a pinch.
Canada is the second largest land mass, the first nation of hockey, and the best part of North America.
It’s July first, and I AM CANADIAN!
(Where’s my beer?)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
– John 3:16 (KJV)
I am by no means a ravening fanatical Catholic–I go to church a couple of times a year, and use my own Zen Buddhist study and meditation as a replacement for prayer. I’m sure most other Catholics would consider me a heretic for combining Zen with my Catholic faith, but it works for me, and I think that’s what’s important.
I’ve been meditating on John 3:16 lately, treating it as something of a koan. No true enlightenment yet (I’m afraid I have many more years of work before I become a good Christian, OR Zen Buddhist) but something struck me today.
One of the big issues I have in trying to find common ground amongst my spiritual influences is the idea that one must believe in Christ to be saved. Is it not enough to be a good person, and live as Christ taught us? Must we also believe he is the son of God, risen to the Lord’s right hand to wash away the sins of the world? (point of fact, I do believe this, but I question if I should have to.)
But today it struck me–John 3:16 says only that we must believe in ‘Him’ (one would assume to be Jesus), not what we must believe about him. I wonder if the belief and faith in Christ’s teachings (see the Beatitude for those teachings in a nutshell) would not also be a belief in ‘Him’, and would lead one to conclude that following the teachings of Christ (so similar in many ways to Buddha and other enlightened persons) and living as Christ lived might also count as belief in him. And that would see one with everlasting life.
I have a hard time believing that if God loved us so much he would send his only son to be crucified, he’d toss us away over not ‘believing’ enough even if we lived humble and righteous and ‘Christian’ lives.
Then again, I also wonder what is everlasting life, truly? But that’s a meditation, and a post, for another day.
A distant and familiar sadness calls to us
As if carried on the wind, like burning sand
Brothers and Sisters, away, you endure
Stranded on our own land
A memory etched into soul and skin
Leaves a scar that never heals
Our family is strong, but scattered
Across the stars and fields
We will not abandon you
We will not forget you
We will return for you
by Bear McCreary.
I’ve not been able to stop listening for the last several hours–there’s something intensely moving about this song and it’s lyrics.
Mobile post sent by whytwolf using Utterz. Replies.
Now anyone who’s ever been a fan of Robotech would remember the VR-052 Battler Cyclone ride armour from the Invid War. Anyone who knows Robotech and Anime would now that this same unit was called the M.O.S.P.E.A.D.A from the original anime of the same name.
How many of us have dreamed of having a Cyclone in real life?
If you’re like me, then you’d get a kick out of this.
Sure, it’s not as elegant, and doesn’t carry any cool weapons–but when was the last time the Invid/Inbit invaded Earth?
Baby steps, baby steps.