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OPINION | GARY SMITH: The truth hurts — and so does everything else

No pain, no … wait, am I still alive? by Gary Smith | February 10, 2023 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated February 10, 2023 at 1:05 a.m.

From perspective gained both by living as long as I have and by the recent completion of one more year of survival as the earth circled the sun, I feel qualified to comment on a few things. Remember, though, that commentary, like free advice, is typically worth about what you pay for it.

One of the things I'm qualified to speak on arises from a quote I read recently from a young man who says he gets through difficult workouts by repeating to himself, "Pain is temporary."

That is just the kind of mantra someone who engages in difficult workouts is bound to say. It's also the sort of thing young men tend to say when faced with challenges. And from my own personal experience as a once-young man who has grown older, I can attest that while the statement sounds great, there's one problem.

It's not true.

OK, some context. Yes, some pain is temporary. You cut yourself shaving and you're likely to get over it after a few minutes of dabbing at yourself with a towel and cursing loudly. However, I might add that, since I've reached the age where taking a baby aspirin in an effort to thin my blood and help prevent a heart attack is part of my daily routine, when I cut myself shaving, I may require a second towel. And a transfusion.

But, again, having reached "a certain age," I can tell you with ironclad certainty, pain is not temporary. It does, however move around.

My knee hurts. Which knee? Well, that sort of depends on a lot of factors, none of which are apparently under my control or follow any particular pattern. And sometimes, it's both of them. Engineers will tell you redundancy is supposed to be a good thing. That's sort of like "pain is temporary."

My neck also hurts. Didn't know why so I researched it on my cell phone. And discovered it was because I spend too much time looking down at my cellphone. But when I hold my cell phone up, my shoulder hurts.

If I sit too long, my back hurts. If I stand too long, my feet hurt. So you would think there was a delicate balance that would enable me to stand and sit in the correct intervals so nothing hurts. And apparently that balance is so delicate I miss it every time and both my back and feet hurt.

I have officially reached that point in my life where I can hurt myself doing nothing at all. Which is certainly a contrast to days gone by when I knew exactly what I had done to hurt myself, and did it anyway.

Case in point on the "hurt myself doing nothing" thing: I often wake up sore. Which means I've hurt myself sleeping. Now I realize sleeping is doing something, but it is about as close to doing nothing as you can get and still be breathing.

I hurt myself when I move parts of my body. And when I don't move parts of my body, they fall asleep, which really hurts when they "wake up." So, to recap, I hurt myself doing something, not doing something, moving, not moving, awake and sleeping.

I hurt myself a long time ago, and it either still or has started hurting now. I mean, you'd figure there would be a statute of limitations on that sort of thing, but apparently no. I have also hurt myself recently, and it still hurts. So apparently pain observes no degree of seniority.

I have found myself hoping I haven't hurt myself badly enough to require care not (just) because I don't want to have to go to the doctor but because I don't want to have to tell him and anyone else who asks that, yes, I tore my rotator cuff reaching for a jar of peanut butter or that my foot has gone numb and no, I don't really know how that happened except ... WOW, it just woke up. So problem solved. Sort of.

At some point in your life, if you're lucky enough to live that long, pain is not temporary. You can't just power through, certain you'll come out on the other side, because it's waiting for you there. It sort of comes with the territory. I'd say it reminds you you're still alive, but then, so would ice cream.

Given a choice, take the ice cream. Oh, wait, BRAIN FREEZE!

Print Headline: The truth hurts (too)


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