Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Trooper

So, the dentist wishes that more of his patients ("well, people in general, really") were like me - "a real trooper." I have believed for many, many years that I have a high tolerance for pain - ask anyone who knows me, I brag about this tremendous gift on a fairly regular basis. The fact is, however, that I do not have an immense threshold for being hurt; I simply learned as a very young child not to let the pain show. The ideal is to just cowboy up and deal - take any abuse they can inflict in their various manners of execution - shut-up about it. No one can hear, see, know what is happening; just accept what you deserve, or don't, it doesn't really matter. So, as the drill and saw and needle were working their way through my jaw, I did what I always do, what I have done since I can remember - I counted, I prayed and I imagined scenarios of a later - better - safer life. This is how I accept what is coming to me, how I deal with unpleasantries, how I cope with pretty much anything that causes me pain. As a result, I can do all sorts of math operations in my head, can recite the rosary efficiently sans beads and have lived many, far-more-interesting-than-my-actual-life versions of existence; in other words, I did get some valuable results from whatever hurtful experiences I have known.

Perhaps, you are thinking that I should have realized this long ago - far before reaching the age of 50ish, and, perhaps, I am thinking that you are right. That does not change anything - I only fully realized this fact of my life yesterday. It was a bit disconcerting and disappointing to finally understand - and believe - that I do not have a super-human-pain-tolerance; I am only a product of my environment; I only grew into what I was destined to become. Having often thought that I was meant to have a life that is not what I now claim as my own, I find some comfort in seeing that I am who I set-out to be.

Out of desperation or lack of hope or a simple belief that I am a child of God, I have a life that is worthy of living. I know how to cope with whatever is flung my way. My child-learned-forced-to-be-silent voice now screams to be heard - out of desperation or hope - and I can do complex math in my head.