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The Case of Pain

Updated on September 16, 2018
Gamblinman profile image

I've experienced pain as much as anyone else, and no more than anyone else. We all go through it. Who am I to call myself an expert.

Many would have you believe that ‘pain is gain’. Witty wordplay aside, to claim validity in the old saying wouldn’t be reason to think someone was stupid. Pain is often a crucible for some form of gain. For example, the most commonly used format for the saying is under intense physical situations, most commonly sports practice or weight lifting. In this instance working through the pain caused by exceeding physical limitations your body has. When you work past the distraction of pain to achieve distant goals in short but sure strides. A lot of people also say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. It’s a similar idea, but it’s your constitution in question. The idea that whatever hard time your going through, if you simply push on you will come out of it, a stronger person than you came in.

I’ve never agreed with the statement. I don’t think that pain is gain or vice versa. Pain and gain do accompany each other a lot, but I wouldn’t say that they are one in the same. Going through a painful patch in your life doesn’t assure lasting strength in the least. In fact, more often than not it will slowly chip away at your durability, chip away at your integrity, leaving small nicks and gashes, and eventually leading to sizable cracks and leaving you completely shattered. In what way is an ensemble of shards stronger than one whole entity? We forget that our emotional and mental state isn't like bones. They’re like vases. Cracks don’t heal. Breaks don’t mend. What is shattered can never be whole again.

But this isn't a bad thing. Not in my book. We all start off whole, undamaged. And through our life spells of pain and hurt give us knicks and even cracks. But I don’t think of knicks and cracks as flaws. I see them as traits. I think that the cracks and the knicks we get over time are what make us who we are. If none of us ever truly experienced pain, if none of us truly experienced hurt, we would all be alike. Perfect in our imperfection. So dull. So uniform. Pain is what makes a man. And no, I’m not saying that grueling tasks build character, determination, motivation and drive all build character, but what I’m saying is that our personalities and personas are built off of our experiences. And pain is the most impactful experience anyone can possibly have.

Human mind and emotions are not made of bones, but clay. Not in the generic way of being ever-changing and malleable. No, minds and emotion are clay pots. They are not malleable. Not in my book. They are built into a cast, and that is the shape they will resemble for the rest of their existence. But they will take damage, and take wear and tear, from their painful experiences.

I’m not saying people can’t change. I’m saying people can’t change drastically. The general shape of the clay pot cannot be changed, other than breaking it down piece by piece. But it can be polished, it can be cleaned, and most importantly it can be buffed. To become more appealing, more uniform it can have layers of itself chiseled off until eventually the rest of it is as damaged as the cracks were and it’s all level. But to become level it has to lose parts of itself first. This is self-induced pain, self-induced hardship. This is ‘self-betterment’. To put ourselves through voluntary pain, not to remove the damage that was already there but to damage what hadn’t yet been damaged to give off a facade of completeness. And this isn’t a bad thing either. The pot is smooth, it appears unmarked. You simply have a smaller vase.

But pain is more important than this. Pain is more than just you. We all go through pain. And pain is unique. It’s uncommon to find someone else with your caliber, your stature, your magnitude of pain. Uncommon, but not impossible. Pain is an experience. A nasty experience, but an experience nonetheless. And if you last long enough in this hell of a world you’re liable to find one other person who's experienced pain of their own that is remarkably similar to yours or maybe even be undergoing similar pain at the moment that you meet them. To know what they’ve felt, to know what they’ve lost, to know how they’ve changed is something special. It means that you are the only one who can relate. At least on that level. Others may be able to relate in different ways, but never in such a deep way as sharing one’s pain. This, in my opinion, is the most significant, the most special, the most important type of relationship to have. This is the closest you will ever be to any other human being. Everyone is their own entity, their own impenetrable vehicle, and this is the closest you will ever have to true connection. It’s something truly special.

Pain isn’t a bad thing. It’s unwelcomed. It’s unwanted. It’s undesirable. It’s uncomfortable.

But without pain, who would you be?

© 2018 Gamblinman


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