Pain…Why?

Pain

I’ve been thinking about the purpose of pain…physical pain. Yes, we have emotional pain and psychic pain, but they seem to be more lingering and chronic, while physical pain is acute.

 It gets your attention.

My Pain

Most of my pain, historically, has been in my abdomen and head. I’ve suffered from migraines since I was thirteen. As a teen I had really painful menstrual cramps, and later in life, gallstones stuck in my bile ducts (I don’t wish this on anybody). 

Your Pain

I’m sure you have a similar list of extremely painful maladies. Maybe your pain turns up in a different body part. It doesn’t matter. Pain is pain. 

Pain shouldn’t be a competitive sport. “My pain is worse than your pain,” is a fallacy. It’s a way of dissing the pain of another. It shows an ignorance of the fact that an individual’s pain threshold is unique to him or her.

Watching Netflix or eating a chocolate bar doesn’t soothe it. It’s like the universe whacking you with a 2-by-4. It’s like a voice from within saying, “Sorry to do this to you, but you ignored the previous three warnings I gave you.”

Taking Responsibilty

In some instances, I believe this is true. I know eating dark chocolate will give me a migraine. I know how many glasses of wine I can consume without a hangover. Sometimes, it is the two- by -four speaking when I make dubious choices.

Let’s Ask the Universe

On the other hand, does pain necessarily have to be a punitive retribution from the universe? Maybe there’s a higher purpose. 

I can’t say I have the answer as to what that higher purpose might be. But I believe one exists. God is always intentional, and that intention is positive…at least in my book. My lack of answers doesn’t negate it. 

My Take

But, here’s my take. I think, other than being a warning that something needs attention, I think it’s a call for attention. 

There’s nothing like pain to bring you into the present moment. That’s the purpose of meditation, actually, but my mind tends to wander a lot more while meditating than it does during a migraine. When I have a migraine, I’m focused on the migraine.

So, maybe one of the purposes of pain could be to bring us into the present. If this seems too Machiavellian, and you have another theory, please share. 

I’m listening.

Why You Can Call Yourself Courageous

Yes, You Really Are Courageous!

I’ve read that only the most courageous souls volunteer to come to earth.

If you’re reading this, count yourself among the courageous. 

The Evidence

As a former history teacher, I’m well aware that horrific times have occurred with each generation …the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, and multiple other atrocities you can probably name if you’re a student of history.

Man seems always ready to conquer. There has to be a winner, which means there has to be a loser. Maybe that’s why they call it “the game of life.”

It seems most exploration on the planet is merely a race for autonomy…a need for power and acquisition, determining who can conquer the world first. 

 Is it any surprise that the first act after landing on the moon was to stake the American flag into the moon’s sandy surface? This isn’t a criticism…just an observation.

Our Changing Planet

I used to live on Amelia Island in Florida. This beautiful island has been under 8 flags…Spain, England, France, the Patriots Flag, the Green Cross Flag, the Mexican Revolutionary Flag, the National Flag of the Confederacy, and finally, since 1862, the U.S. Flag. A lot of nations wanted this island. 

When I was a kid, our family had a globe. I used to study it to see where different countries were located. Now, that globe is an anachronism. It’s obsolete. Just look at Europe. Look at Russia. The boundaries have moved and the names have changed. Little stays the same. 

Do We Question our Courage?

So, what makes us so special, so courageous? Maybe we’re not. Maybe this belief is simply a balm for our overall lack of meaning… a band-aid for the soul. Maybe this is what Thoreau meant when he said, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. 

Now we’re involved in the race for space. I think this is programmed into our DNA. It’s not a bad thing. I define it as being pro-active. What if we’re hit by an asteroid? What if our earth, for some reason, becomes inhabitable? Having a condo on Mars may someday be as common as a summer home in Aruba. So, this type of exploration makes sense…it’s critical to our survival as a species.

Throughout history there have been challenges. But here’s one of the challenges of this century. We now have the ability to witness worldwide calamities in real time. Social media and the 24-hour news see to it. It takes courage to live in a world where there are no blinders. It reminds me of the scene in “A Clockwork Orange” where they force the guy’s eyes open so he has to watch the film they’re showing. There’s no place to hide.

The Good News

But before you get too depressed, here’s the good news. There’s an antidote, and it’s called purpose. Knowing your purpose is the answer to serenity.

 On a spiritual level, you need to believe you’re here for a reason…at this time…in this place…in this way. 

This is why I love the quote from Richard Bach in his book,” Illusions”, where he says, “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t”.

Musicals, Anyone?

The Annual Needle Stick

Today I endured the annual “blood- letting” ordered by my doctor. 

In preparation, I consumed “mucha agua”, a giant intake of water to artificially pump up my microscopic veins. 

Although I’ve donated blood throughout the years, I was turned away from one blood bank because my veins were too small…a blood bank reject. I’ve always envied those men, my father being one, who touted gigantic veins almost begging to be punctured.

Oliver

On the way to the doctor, I heard a song on the radio from the musical “Oliver”. I’ve always loved musicals. One of my parents must have been a Broadway” wanna-be” because Broadway musicals flooded the airways of my childhood home.

The song that captured my attention was “As Long As He Needs Me”.

As I listened to the lyrics, it struck me. This song is about life purpose. Her purpose, at least in her estimation, was taking care of her man. 

Taking care of him gave her life meaning. Maybe it’s even what she lives for…what gets her out of bed in the morning and gives her a feeling of relevance, importance, belonging, and drive. 

Where would she be without this sense of purpose? We can only guess. But if you listen to the song, her voice conveys a high level of conviction. She’s married, maybe literally, to this belief. You get the feeling she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. 

She’s a lucky woman, and in that sense we should all be so lucky. We should all have the have a reason to get out of bed, feel excited about our lives and our futures, and above all, feel  relevant.

Even if it takes some digging, discovering your purpose lowers depression and amplifies joy. 

Pippin

I’ve always loved the song, “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin. I imagine it’s about seeking out your purpose. 

Because most people have a purpose that involves helping others in some way, it’s beneficial on both accounts.

I guess what I’m suggesting is there are many paths leading to your purpose, including the messages from musicals. 

So, which path is calling your name?

Ginsburg and Oakley…Their Common Thread

 Did You Know?

Did you know life purpose is linked to happiness, as well as a lower probability of depression?

 Even though the term is hot right now, the concept has been percolating for as long as humans have walked the planet.

When you’re a 7th grader, your life purpose might be making it to 8th grade. As an adult, it’s usually more far reaching.

An Unlikely Pair

There are so many examples of those living out their purpose, you don’t have far to look to find a role model. In fact, you may be one. In fact, you probably are one!

A lot has been said about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She spent her life promoting many causes, one being women’s rights. Among her many accomplishments was co-founding the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This takes imagination, inspiration, and grit. She may not have called it “life purpose”, but she had it in spades.

Another, somewhat unlikely prospect was Annie Oakley, the hotshot with the pistol prowess. At the age of 8, she started using her skills to hunt for food for her family. She later traveled the country demonstrating her sharpshooting skills and joining Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. One of her life purposes was advocating for women to learn a male dominated sport, as she had so famously done.

Amazingly, her purpose began before she hit the age of 10. This should encourage young girls to see Oakley as a role model, and seek out their own innate leanings and talents in pursuit of their purpose. 

This morning I read about a book called My Name Is Not Isabella. Just How Big Can A Little Girl Dream? It introduces young girls to role models, such as Sally Ride and Marie Curie. 

Your Relatives and Teachers

I don’t think at the age of 8 I was aware of female role models, other than family members and teachers. Of course, these role models had the biggest influence. They can’t be discounted in my life purpose development. 

Maybe the role models with the most clout are those relatives and teachers who notice and encourage our talents, leanings, and interests. 

Bravo to them…our original life purpose catalysts!