Post Surgical Post:
To suffer or not to suffer; there is no question
So, here I am, your Landscapes for Learning hostess with the mostess, recovering from surgery and pondering the meaning of life, or um…rather…philosophizing about suffering…again. (That’s supposed to be a funny reference to my previous post.)
As I sit here coexisting rather unpleasantly with my abdominal pain, I realize that circumstance has presented me with a wonderful opportunity to confirm that I definitely prefer physical suffering far above any other kinds of suffering, emotional or otherwise. (I also just realized that I hate when people use the word, “definitely” and so many other awful qualifiers in writing that you are about to read throughout this piece. One of my favorite Stephen King quotes is “the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” I love having my own blog where I can edit by choice and add parenthetical thoughts to entertain myself and funny pictures: see below.)
I was in rather acute pain the other night and completely exhausted for the entire next day from the associated writhing, but I would take that, any day, over the pain of, say, heartbreak or the loss of my dog. I would even choose physical pain over major disappointment because disappointment results in expectations not being met, which leads back to doubt about whether or not I should have held the expectations in the first place, which often leads to self-criticism and questions, and questions can lead to uncertainty, which leads to insecurity, which can lead to a sense of nihilism, which also often brings up regret, fear of the future, or lots of negative judgment about the past and previous decisions made or unmade and other stupid expectations that may have gone unmet and further disappointment and despair, and this process often lasts ad infinitum–like a record that skips (is that too old a cultural reference?) or at least as far back in time as early childhood, and everyone knows what that walk down memory lane brings you– a mess of unaddressed emotional wounds, and then you have to wrestle (or not) with bouncing back and forth between past and present problems and what seems like one gigantic tangled hell labeled, “what’s my fucking problem, anyway?” or, if you prefer, “Why bother expecting anything from life, it’s pointless anyway,” which is way easier not to deal with, so you pick up a drink or a smoke or a pill or a person (and their problems which are far easier to solve than your own) or some other obsession, a good HBO series maybe, and then you are left where you started– completely lost (in the series, in someone else’s business posing as a do-gooder, or pleasantly buzzed) and still actually suffering except you don’t exactly “feel” it or even “know” it because it is effectively temporarily submerged (a.k.a.repressed), sort of neatly put aside like a beautiful statue on a shelf (doesn’t it look perfect in that exact spot? Hey I did something!) but you know it will be (added to the pile of unaddressed emotional shit from your past) back with new results potentially even more disastrous, had you just not turned to HBO (and turned away from your suffering) like an irresponsible, weak, scared, unknowing human that you (and all of us usually) are.
Yuck. Not a story of heroic proportion (or is it proportions? does it matter? Notice how I am staying with the theme here).
So, my current state of physical pain is my preferred mode of suffering because it’s simple and doesn’t ask a lot from me. I am glad for this kind of suffering, where all I have to do is lie on the couch and wait for my body to heal itself. Your body is not a mystery and you really don’t get a choice in the matter of physical pain once it appears. There is no question of responsibility, of choice, to deal or not to deal, to be (with the pain) or not to be (with the pain). In other words, physical pain cannot be repressed!
And I am not exactly taking up the cross as I wait for my stitches to heal and the inflammation in my gut (or is it guts? see what I did there?) to subside. I don’t have to do any rational work. I mean, I am sitting here thinking about the nature of pain in my abdomen, and it has led me to conclude that I prefer this pain above other kinds, but there’s nothing else to figure out, no real problem to solve, and I already have the answer about why the pain exists at all —because I had an organ removed, Dummy!
So this brings me to the end of my story about preferential suffering (you know I mean only when I have to bear it; I don’t go looking for it and, of course, I avoid unnecessary pain whenever possible!), but there are so many, many more great stories you might like to read about human suffering and all its forms. Typically, they involve a hero from whom you might learn a thing or two. I would begin with either CONTEMPORARY CULTURE and work your way backwards, or start with HUMAN HISTORY and work your way back to the future. Or, even better, you could share your own story in the comments below.