Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pain Can Be An Opportunity

You know the saying "No Pain, No Gain". Well, whoever thought that up was not half baked.

Although I will be the first to admit that I absolutely hate pain and would rather avoid it, pain can be productive if you channel the experience and energy in the right direction.

A few days ago I was wallowing in self pity from emotional pain. It lasted all day and intensified the more I had time to mull it over. Later that evening at the gym, I had an "aha" moment. Just like the physical exhaustion of lifting weights to make the muscle stronger and improve its appearance, pain can be the inspiration for personal growth and betterment.

In the movie "As Good As It Gets" with actress Diane Keaton and actor Jack Nichols, emotional pain is what they needed to grow in their relationship. It is interesting. Diane Keaton is a character who plays a writer and has the perfect beach house on the coast to get away from it all and to do what she does best....."the writer's abode". However, she hits a long period of writer's block and is pressed to meet her upcoming deadline.

When she unexpectedly meets the character Jack Nichols plays, her life turns topsy turvy. At one point they break it off leaving her completely distraught. During that time she retreats back to the beach house and her experience of anguish inspires her to complete the novel she is working on.

It is kind of funny and I like the cleverness of the lines used in the following scene. The character played by Jack Nicholos is also feeling really down and misses her so he decides to call her. He asks "How is the writing coming?" to which she replies "Oh! Its just pouring out!" Then she starts literally bauling.

Anyhow, back to my story...As I said, I don't like pain. Lord knows I have been through my share of both physical and emotional pain. One in my position could ask "Why did I have to have so many needles stuck in me? Why did I have to go through the trauma of having cancer and brain tumors? Why did I have to lose my hearing and balance?"

Sometimes we don't immediately see or understand the reason. I can recall times when both Harley and I have been through personal struggles and because of the tragedy/loss it motivated us in a different direction that paved the way for a better quality of life. Yet at the time, we would have thought the trying experience was "the" or near worst in the world.

My pain has given me a broader perspective of things. It has helped me to learn the true meaning of empathy, a term first introduced to me while in college at the tender age of 19 when just beginning to discover adulthood. At the time, I had a hard time understanding the difference between sympathy and empathy but that quickly changed in the fate which was to become my life.

At 21 when going through chemotherapy and facing the reality of my mortality, I couldn't immediately find justification nor reason. Yet, 15 years down the road my persverence as a survivor has provided hope and comfort for others enduring the same.

Pain is inevitable and something we must learn to accept and brace ourselves for. The opportunity lies in how you respond to the pain and harness it to be productive.


Kathy said...

Beck...I could not agree with you more!! These curve balls in life sure do stink...but in the long run they just make ya stronger & more determined & really makes one appreciate the litte miracles in life we too often overlook everyday.

Anonymous said...

dear rebecca, despite all the pain and ups and down i wish that you find moments of content and happiness in small small things in daily life. wish you all love and happiness!