I grew up in a home where stoically enduring pain was considered to be a sign of personal strength and good character. Every once in a while, a good “whipping” would be administered to give each of us the opportunity to strengthen our stoic-pain-endurance skills. While working, I was provided with many situations that allowed me to continue honing those skills. The instances more often involved emotional and mental pain, than physical pain (although there were plenty of paper cuts, head bumps and occasionally a finger impaled with a staple – no crying or cussing allowed).
Retirement (or perhaps it’s just old age) has continued to provide lots of pain, ensuring my character and the opportunities needed for continued improvement (continuous improvement was a popular theme in the work world of my past). Recently, I have come to view pain as “proof of life.” When I feel pain, I know I’m alive. Aging has provided an increasing number of painful opportunities to feel alive. In fact, I have never felt more alive. My knees, back, neck, wrists, and sometimes my big toe remind me that I am alive.
Medical professionals do their part by convincing me to endure painful procedures to decrease my pain. Next Monday, I will have painful injections in my neck in the hope of decreasing my neck pain. The good news is that I will pay a lot of money (it will be financially painful) to be hurt, but hopefully not harmed, and to FEEL alive. It reminds me of the whippings of ol’ which were not only intended to encourage decency and good character, but to toughen us up so that we would survive the hazards of adolescent and adult life. We’re all still alive, so it must have worked.
I enjoy the Hendrik Groen books which, in diary format, chronicle the life of a geriatric man in an assisted living facility in the Netherlands. There’s a lot of humor in those books. I was surprised! He and his friends organize the “Old But Not Dead Club.” The club encourages participation in fun activities DESPITE the members’ ever-increasing aches, pains and incontinence. Those Dutch really know how to have fun, even when it hurts. It makes them feel alive.
In retirement, I enjoy crocheting, gardening and walking. Doing these activities, for me, is painful and fun. I should take up the guitar – I bet that would hurt. Life, albeit painful, is good.