Pain and Its Message

7 08 2017

We are in crisis here in the land of the free.  I’ve not seen such an attachment to opioids—read heroin and its cousins—since the Seventies.  People are overdosing at an alarming rate.  It’s so bad a mentor told me her septuagenarian mom, dealing with severe knee pain, would score heroin if she knew how.

How does a great nation get to a place like this?

There are lots of reasons and there are no silver bullet answers to the crisis.  Easy access to narcotics is one.  Flip and careless scriptwriting habits of some health care professionals are another.

But here’s one.  We run from pain.  And to be clear, the pain of injuries, say a slipped disk or severe arthritis, are not to be taken lightly.  We do what we can to eliminate unbearable pain.  I know folks who’ve been dealing with these and similar afflictions for many years.  But often we are running from dealing with the difficult realities of life here on this planet.

A mentor of mine, a licensed family therapist, has told me more than once, “I believe pain is trying to tell us something and numbing the pain keeps us from hearing its message.”

The result: Addictions, overdoses, and premature deaths.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The things that hurt, instruct.”

What to do?

I for one tend to suck at the art of resilience.  It’s easy to run from difficulty into the arms of some substance or pursuit in effort to avoid pain.  Pain of boredom, pain of dashed expectations, pain of meaninglessness in the mundane areas of life.

I do not want to make light of addiction.  It’s real and it’s devastating.  I’ve been there.  But are there things we can do to fight the urge to run and hide?  I believe there are.

Thoughts for reflection:

  • Have you stopped long enough, in sobriety and self-evaluation, to ask yourself What is my pain trying to tell me?
  • How are the Baby Boomers through the Millenials dealing differently with the harshness of life than our forbears from the Depression and World War II, the “Greatest Generation?”
  • Have you considered that pain, some or maybe all of it, is actually a chisel to mold you into a stronger person?

This is not going away, at least not in the near future.  How will you answer the questions pain asks of you?

 

Suggested Resources:

The Gift of Pain (Paul Brand and Philip Yancey)

The Problem of Pain (C.S. Lewis)

 

Image Credit





Fire and Rain: The Back Story

24 07 2013

James+TaylorBack in the late 1960′s a talented singer-songwriter from the East Coast was struggling to find his place in the world as well as the entertainment business.  He had a band named The Flying Machine.  He moved to New York City.

Like so many young and successful musicians, he was surrounded by the trappings of “the life.”  Frenetic existence, pushing and clawing to make make a name and a statement with his art, and drugs.  The latter, coupled with depression, snared him in a bad way.  He said, “I learned a lot about music and too much about drugs.”

He sought help at a drug rehabilitation center in Massachusetts for his heroin dependance and depression.  While there he befriended a girl named Suzanne.  The friendship was, alas, short-lived as Suzanne committed suicide.  This marked him deeply and he wrote a moving chronicle of the period, “Fire and Rain.”

James Taylor eventually got free of drugs and his art is better than ever.  Sometimes it helps to know the background of a song, the circumstances that give it birth.  Context is all.  It is a remarkably frank plea of someone looking for help when life and dreams have been shattered.  Here it is:

                            Fire and Rain

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now.

Image Credit





Fire and Rain

17 02 2012

Back in the late 1960’s a talented singer-songwriter from the East Coast was struggling to find his place in the world as well as the entertainment business.  He had a band named The Flying Machine.  He moved to New York City.

Like so many young and successful musicians, he was surrounded by the trappings of “the life.”  Frenetic existence, pushing and clawing to make make a name and a statement with his art, and drugs.  The latter, coupled with depression, snared him in a bad way.  He said, “I learned a lot about music and too much about drugs.”

He sought help at a drug rehabilitation center in Massachusetts for his heroin dependance and depression.  While there he befriended a girl named Suzanne.  The friendship was, alas, short-lived as Suzanne committed suicide.  This marked him deeply and he wrote a moving chronicle of the period, “Fire and Rain.”

James Taylor eventually got free of drugs and his art is better than ever.  Sometimes it helps to know the background of a song, the circumstances that give it birth.  Context is all.  It is a remarkably frank plea of someone looking for help when life and dreams have been shattered.  Here it is:

                            Fire and Rain

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now.

Image Credit