Denes McIntosh: The pleasure of knowing pain
Most everyone has suffered some degree of personal/emotional or situational hardship and misfortune in life.
And many have been affected by at least one painful benchmark, including the death of friends or family, the perpetual ache, and disorientation, of divorce (whether it be one’s own, or one’s parents), the onset of illness, sudden accident, the challenge of alcoholism or drug addiction with self or family, the loss of employment, income, home or community.
I am not exceptional in this arena. I do not even begin to compare my experience to that of others of whom I am aware, or to the many of whom I know nothing about. It’s just that my pain is uniquely my own, as yours is your own.
There are a myriad of situations and circumstances that contribute to the definition of life. Much of it involves pain. It is part of what enables our perspective. As we all know, without the darkness we would not appreciate the light, without the sour the sweet would be a little less satisfying. Without the cold, the warm gets taken for granted. And yes, without the pain, the pleasure would be compromised.
The pleasure of knowing pain is, obviously, in the aftermath of having known it; and in the continuous process of surviving it. Pain is, assuredly, what has saved me from the saccharine life of the undisturbed, the vanilla existence of the sheltered and protected. Not that I have embraced pain in its frequent, suffocating visitation, but I would never deny the validity, or the profundity of its influence. It is, I can say with the wisdom of experience, the balance to taking everything else for granted.
Having had my share of rabid teeth gnawing at my flesh, I would not trade my scars for the smooth and delicate skin I would be wearing were it not for them. That is not to say that, if given the choice, I would choose to experience the pain, I most assuredly would not, it’s just that, having been partially influenced by its presence, I have gained a certain understanding in, and of, life that I would not possess had things been different. It is a dynamic I cannot refute, wrestle with, or deny. And it is true for each of us.
The pleasure of knowing pain. It is not a masochistic indulgence, or a pretentious concept, as one might conclude from the phrase itself. It is, however, for one who can bring perspective to the scream, the echo of hope coming back to rejuvenate the downtrodden. It is, I might add, an esoteric pleasure, rather than a measurable impression.
It has been said about life, “No one gets out alive,” but as a prelude to that, no one gets through life unscathed either. It is what we do with our grief that matters, that makes it “profitable” pain, rather than just tragic circumstances.
I am thankful, however, that in life, pain has been my occasional acquaintance, rather than my companion.
Denes McIntosh lives in Grass Valley.
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