Saturday, September 3, 2011

Inward and Onward

Pain is a funny thing.

Imagine a little boy in a soccer game who slips, falls, and breaks his wrist, and, just as he does, a teammate gets the ball on a breakaway, runs down the field, and scores.

Will the boy be cheering with everyone else? Does he even notice there's a goal amidst the pain?

Maybe he does, and the team celebration takes his mind off the pain for a few minutes, but then it comes back.

Maybe someone the boy knows shouts "Come on! Come on!" from the sidelines, unaware of the invisible pain the break is causing, trying (quite endearingly) to be a helpful encourager, with the helpful effect of getting the boy to focus on the game, and not the pain, for 5 minutes or so. But then it comes back.

Maybe a few moments later, while the boy is hunched over, holding his wrist in agony, the ball rolls to his feet, and between everyone on the sidelines shouting and the 10+ other boys charging towards him, pain is forgotten as he works to make the best play he can.

I hate to say it, but that's kind of like what grieving is like.

There is pain.

It draws you inward.

And while it's not entirely obvious from the outside, and while there are plenty of very good distractions that can take your mind off it, it's there, and it's very real.

Like the soccer boy, though, with the broken wrist, I know the pain will eventually go away. That there will be a day that comes and goes where you don't even think about it.

That's one of the amazing things about life on this planet – there are entire universes of invisible systems that take care of hurts and pains in order to help us along in the struggle to survive. From platelets to neurotransmitters to emotional resiliency to helpful conversations, nature abounds with healing remedies.

And that's, I guess, how it works. While pain may draw you inward, life moves onward. Always. And while not all of us are fortunate enough to have access to the magic elixirs we need, some of us are. And whatever they may be, they're worth being grateful for.

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