Friday, August 18, 2006


Pain is a rather interesting force. For obvious reasons I have been thinking about this topic again. I actually have a "philosophy" built around the entire subject developed recuperating from the dissolution of my first rather short marriage, now almost twenty-years ago. Of course, I am talking about emotional pain. Thinking about this I am just reminded of something my grandfather said as he lay dying just this last year. I was saying good-bye for the last time; "Artie", he said, (he is Artis, so in my family, I am Artie) "you’ve had a hard life". I don't remember what he said next - that stuck like a spear in my side. I laid my head on his chest and sobbing, said my good-byes leaving with that thought in my head. I flew back to Colorado and I think he died the next night. So, I will never be sure why he said that, especially since he watched his young wife die, leaving him with four little children. He did not have an easy life. He was born into a family of sharecroppers in the Deep South during the depression, and that was just the start. Gradddaddy's perspective deepens the mystery. Anyway, I guess I have a reputation; although, I really don’t see my life that way. There are plenty of people with hard lives. I don’t have a corner that commodity. But, one must always remember that pain is relative. Some people experience great trauma while growing up and some very little. It can very well be true that the person who really suffered some serious abuse can be quite fine, while the later develops some serious psychiatric condition. The capacity of the psyche to either overcome or succumb can never be minimized, nor can psychiatry portend some condition based upon any set of tragic events.

Back to the subject though -– physically, pain is a necessary evil; it literally keeps us alive. Touch the hot stove and it is a sure thing that pain will "make" you save your hand. Without the pain, you could very well just burn your finger right off. Not an altogether pleasant thought making it quite easy to see that pain is a good thing. But, (here's a great dichotomy) only through pain can we achieve greater fitness and the benefits that implies. The saying, "no pain, no gain" is familiar to us all. What we are accomplishing with the pain is building a better "machine". So, the more "pain" you can embrace while working toward a fitness goal, the more fit you will be.

Physical pain, therefore, has two aspects - one positive (building the body) and one negative (saving the body from a threat). There are those that avoid physical pain like the plague. Workout -– never, be hungry -– unthinkable; I could go on, but you see the point. Those life choices produce negative results, which in turn produce things like obesity, which in turn can produce all kinds of physical problems. All of this is fairly obvious, but apply the physical aspects of pain and pain avoidance to the other parts of our lives (emotional, spiritual, and relational) and wallah; you've got something to think about.

Think what happens when you avoid emotional pain. Think about the long-term affects - think about the relational affects. I am quite sure you can relate. This is huge if you think about it. Now, think about “"exercising" emotions – working out. A completely different picture begins to form. What if we were as proactive with our emotional muscles as with our quads? I wonder what we can do with our wives/husbands for a little work-out. I know I have had some serious workouts lately. Are you avoiding one - maybe, maybe not. It isn't pleasant, but I promise you some strong quads.

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