Pain comes in many forms. Physical pain, emotional pain, pain from injury, or disease. You can’t always see the pain someone else suffers. But that doesn’t make it any less real.
Temporary physical pain that heals, can impact someone’s life for a short period. When the injury heals and the pain subsides, most people forget it happened and they’re ready to move on. But the long term effects will not be seen and can be life changing to the person who suffered the injury.
Constant chronic pain of the body, often can’t be seen either. But it’s often ignored by others who can’t understand the suffering because they can see its effects. That doesn’t make it any less real or life changing.
Captain Kirk said in a Star Trek movie once “You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!”
I hate to disagree with the good Captain, but if we lose our pain, we don’t lose ourselves. If we’re lucky, we find out who we are because of the way we dealt with the pain. But he is right, pain and guilt do make us who we are by the way we allow it to affect us each and every day.
Today I saw a poster that said “Pain changes people”. Yes it does. But how it changes you is up to you to decide. Will you allow it to take you into the darkness where you seethe with anger and allow depression to set in and alter your outlook on all things around you? Or will you fight back and deal with the consequences, making an effort to laugh and appreciate the beauty around you?
As I get older and suffer through the aches and pains of age, I’ve come face to face with the long-term impact of chronic pain. The frustration of not being able to do little things that I used to do so easily. Like most people, I have my good days and when the weather changes, I have my bad days. But each morning I make a choice of how will I allow my pain to impact me on this day. Even if I decide it’s not going to hold me back today, frustration isn’t far off when I try to do things and no matter how hard I try, I still can’t get it done.
All those accidents with horses, bikes and other activities when I was younger are catching up with me now. I’m paying for the freedom of youth to have fun and experience life. But I wouldn’t go back and change those events, even if they still ended in a broken bone or two, three, or whatever. Those experiences were moments of living life to the fullest and sometimes I do miss the smell of a good barn! The struggle of grooming a horse and cleaning out his shoes before lifting his blanket and saddle for a ride on the trails.
It easy to lash out in those moments of pain upon standing, or whatever the case maybe. And many people do just that. Unfairly taking their pain out on those around them. Others suffer in silence, or suffer as much in silence as they can muster. Let’s face it, sometimes when you step on that hip that isn’t work so well and the pain shoots down your leg, you’re going to say ouch in some fashion. But once the kink is worked out and you stand or get to where you’re going, it’s ok. You got there, now the next task. Getting your shoulder to move your arm up and take that glass off the second shelf in the cabinet.
Each person suffering in some kind of pain makes a choice for how they will allow it to affect their life. At some point it’s still a personal and individual choice. You can be in pain and fight against its impacts upon your life. You can try to do the things you’ve always done, doing the best you can, even if you fall short and need to ask for help. Is it really such a tragedy to say “excuse me, can you help me with this?” Really? You think that’s hard?! You can choose to give up and give in, allowing the moment to push you into despair and darkness. Give up on life, and live in the darkness of the pain allowing things to go from bad to worse. But are you really doing yourself a favor by doing that?
Seeing that poster today really caught my attention, because earlier this morning I saw a story from CNN about one of my favorite journalists, Miles O’Brien. Mr. O’Brien is a reporter who focuses on science and technology. His views and story telling resonate with me and I truly like his reporting. In February 2014 he suffered what seemed to be a simple accident that resulted in the loss of his left arm. He shared his story on his blog in “Just a Flesh Wound“.
This morning’s story was a snippet of an interview Miles had last night with Erin Burnett on CNN about losing his arm while on assignment in the Philippines (Miles O’Brien Opens Up – video). The interview is powerful as he lays out the two choices people have in these situations and it made me think of suffering through any painful event in life. “You can look at it as yet another challenge in life..” he said “Or you can end up in a very dark place. I didn’t like the dark place when I went down that road briefly”.
Keeping things in perspective is one of the best ways to keep yourself from going down that dark road. Miles put it very nicely in his interview “I thought about the examples in my life, … people who have endured breast cancer and other afflictions. The example they have set for me of courage and grace under much greater stakes. This is horrible,” he says pointing to his missing arm, “but it’s not something that’s going to loom over me for the rest of my life, wondering if it’s going to take my life. It’s over with. People who have cancer don’t have that luxury. I look at those people and I’m inspired by them. If they can do it, certainly I can.” ~ A big thank you to Miles for being such a positive inspiration for everyone facing any challenge.
When you keep your own suffering in perspective to what others have gone through, you find courage and inspiration to fight your own battles. Many people who have lost a lot more than I have, have endured pain much greater than I’m going through, are still getting up everyday and facing the challenges that fall before them. With examples like that, it’s not a big leap to make the choice to fight the pain of the body, heart or mind and say I’m not going to give in or give up.
Believe In Yourself and You Can Over Come Your Challenges Too!
Need More Inspiration?
Those of you who have visited my blog before, know I’m a huge race fan. Through “My Passionate Distraction”, I have been fortunate to meet some very entertaining and inspirational people. Even if it’s only been online. This year I meet Eric Saunders Former Professional Motocross Rider. On a Saturday in late August 2010, Eric was practicing on the dirt track located on his family’s property when he crashed. He was airlifted to Indianapolis and underwent 4 hours of surgery Sunday to align his stretched spine. Sunday was his 18th birthday and Eric woke up facing no feeling in his body from the chest down.
Eric began racing when he was 6 years old. He signed with Nascar driver Tony Stewart’s race team, Tony Stewart Racing, when he was 9 years old and was running in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Nationals circuit. With 500 wins under his belt, Eric had a bright and probable successful future in front of him. Then he faced challenges.
But Eric didn’t choose to fall into that dark place and wallow in self-pity. In August 2012 he returned to racing. He took to the track at Plymouth Speedway racing in a dirt track car that he controls completely with his hands. His sponsor, 3-time nascar champion Tony Stewart, was also on hand to see Saunders and to race himself. ~ Paralyzed Lakeville native returns to racing ~ WNDU.com
Eric continues to race today. His motto “I Can, I Will, I Did” is beautifully plastered on race t-shirts to remind everyone that if you put your mind and heart into what you desire, you can overcome anything! All you have to do, is choose to face the challenges in your life. ~ Thanks to Eric for his courage and inspiration.
© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.