Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Life is Pain



Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. (Westley, "The Princess Bride")

Is there a reason to endure more pain?

I don't know. I suppose there might be. Why not wait and see for yourself? No one can say what the future holds. Maybe good things, maybe bad. Maybe more of the same.

That's all I have to sell. Lots of maybe's. That better be good enough.

8 comments:

Patricia K said...

I beg to differ. IMO, life has pain but isn't itself pain. Also, here's another "maybe" for you -- maybe pain isn't a thing in itself but is a raw material capable of being shaped into something more powerful and meaningful than mere pain. Maybe people who accept pain as an end-product are simply stopping the process too soon.

It's hard to say, me not knowing you and you not knowing me. But you appear to be in a twilight zone between expectations and possibilities. The expectations you had for how life ought to be have suffered a setback; the possibilities open to you seem obscure.

Take it from someone whose daughter's brain was severely injured even before she was born: expectations have far less value than possibilities. I expected a certain kind of life and relationship with my daughter. Those expectations had to die. Doctors don't know what the possibilites are in these cases and often hand you worst case scenarios. You have to generate the possibilities yourself and tough your way toward them.

I would say it's an epic adventure. I would say it's a revelation. I would not say it's a blessing. I would not say God injured my innocent daughter's brain so that I might learn some lesson.

And yet, my life has taken to running wider and deeper and faster since those early, seemingly hopeless years.

I would say it has been quite a ride.

Jim Cobabe said...

Patricia,

What I observe is that pain is a major component of life. It apparently was created just that way purposefully. I don't have a clue why.

From classic biology, the principle is referred to as 'irritability', and is considered one of the primary symptoms of a living organism.

As for doctors, I think they claim to know magnitudes more than they do. When I meet a doctor who confesses ignorance and confusion, I'll start believing him. Until then, they are all a bunch of liars.

Patricia K said...

You're a lot more deterministic than I am, Jim. You're speaking as if an organism is a mechanism given over to fixed responses.

Responding to stimuli is one of the primary characteristics of a living organism. Irritation is one of a variety of responses to stimuli.

One response to irritability is suffering. Another is moving away from the source of irritation. But plenty other responses exist. Even something as basic as an oyster can come up with a more interesting response to irritation than simple suffering.

Somewhere along the organism continuum, I think intelligence shifts the balance of response away from a mere trigger-response lockdown. The more intelligent the being, the more ways it can find to respond to stimuli.

Which brings us back to perceiving and acting on possibilities, which is perhaps the highest response to stimuli, whether it is positive or negative.

Jim Cobabe said...

Patricia,

The basic biology of organism is what we have left, after everything else is removed. This is the level I approach these days. All problems are reduced to overcoming biology. I don't have the strength left to deal with a whole lot more. When you can't dress yourself, or take care of bodily elimination by yourself, it effectively reduces the problems I can address, within practical and pragmatic limits. I have little strength left to spare for pondering philosophical considerations.

Patricia K said...

Jim, I understand. I have done some intensive work to "overcome biology" myself. I have been found myself completely absorbed in the task, barely keeping my sanity, my life, and my family together, with people having nothing better to say than, "Why are you doing that instead of what you're supposed to be doing for us?"

You seemed to be sending out ravens and doves, looking for land. I'm just saying, from my considerable experience, that there's a good chance it's still out there.

Patricia K said...

Jim, I understand. I have done some intensive work to "overcome biology" myself. I have been found myself completely absorbed in the task, barely keeping my sanity, my life, and my family together, with people having nothing better to say than, "Why are you doing that instead of what you're supposed to be doing for us?"

You seemed to be sending out ravens and doves, looking for land. I'm just saying, from my considerable experience, that there's a good chance it's still out there.

Jim Cobabe said...

Patricia,

I agree that the experience we call "life" can be rich and varied. Some of us see it all, the full scope. But there are aspects of this life's experience that can effectively reduce the dimensionality, even through no fault of our own. Some can only experience pain, and lack the ability to feel pleasure and well-being the way others of us do.

I have tasted good and ill. Right now, my scope of experience is so restricted, it seems like there is nothing else. Indeed, pursuing things that don't help me escape from the pain seems pointless and futile.

I do look forward with hope that things will continue to improve for me. Perhaps they will. I have every reason to believe so. But right now, what I can see is more pain in store. I can endure a lot of pain, but not without hope of some relief. That is coming, I am confident.

Miracles have already happened to me. I survived a personal crises that kills most. Now I continue the struggle. Life goes on.

patricia k said...

Oh, btw, scratch that "overcome biology" in my (unfortunately duplicated) comment. What I'm getting at would be better said this way: "I have done some intensive work in concert with basic biology to help my daughter toward more than she was born with."

You said, "I do look forward with hope that things will continue to improve for me. Perhaps they will. I have every reason to believe so. But right now, what I can see is more pain in store. I can endure a lot of pain, but not without hope of some relief. That is coming, I am confident."

This is good to hear. Some of the things I did, I didn't know whether they would pay off or not. Looking back over the ground we've covered these sixteen years, I can see that those things did work, more than I thought possible.

One thing I learned: physical therapy is a good bet.