douleur – pain ( in French )
We are guaranteed pain, but suffering is optional is an idea I have often heard. I agree, especially if you are having fun at the time. Hanging out with active young teenagers means pain often follows, for me anyway. Jumping on trampolines, skiing black diamond slopes, swinging from the playground structures and climbing on rocks has left me with mild pain, but very little suffering. I recently fell on my butt at the playground swinging from these monkey bar type things only they were handles hanging from chain. I just learned how to do these again because I was hanging out with my kids and my kid on loan from France, Julien, our French exchange student. So one day I was walking and thought life is too short to care what people think if they see me doing monkey bars. And being the suburbs in the middle of the day, no one is usually around – unless you decide one day to get on the monkey bars and wipe out. I almost made it to the end but didn’t make the last handhold. I bashed my knee and came down on my tailbone in the snow. Then I went home. On the way I thought to myself, what would a kid do? They would keep sledding. So I almost looked for a snowbank to sit in, but instead went inside for an icepack. We tell ourselves stories and this time the story was one that made me happy every time I felt my pain in the butt. I was reminded of the playful spirit of our friend Julien who was the one that challenged me to do the monkey bars in the first place. I still marvel at watching my friend’s grandchildren bouncing and running around. One of them, about 2 years old took a flying leap and seemed to purposely land on her butt with her legs wide spread and then she bounced off the carpeted floor and kept going laughing all the while. These kids were so strong and bouncy and energetic.
Another fun thing about a mild injury is to see what happens in a yoga class, without making it worse of course. Another positive side effect of having fallen this time was that it was impossible to slouch or sit with my tailbone tucked. Unfortunately I hardly slept the first night. Otherwise, my timing of falling on my tailbone was perfect because the next day I was signed up for a yoga therapy workshop with Suzette O’Byrne. To my surprise, two thirds of the way through the first session on restorative yoga, my pain was greatly reduced. We did an SI joint release after a whole bunch of spine lengthening restorative poses and that was the point when I thought, well that was worth the price of admission.
I misheard something that Julien said one day. He does judo and his 2 sisters do judo and he was talking about how he gets beat up by them sometimes. I don’t have the greatest French or the greatest hearing it would appear, because I thought he said “soupe de l’heure”, so I didn’t understand and asked him, “What does that mean soupe de l’heure?”
“No”, I said souffre-douleur.” We had a laugh and I thought I understood what that meant. But looking up souffre-douleur, it can be translated as punching bag or scapegoat.
“Another day another douleur.” – a saying made up by Casey’s dad.
I’ve been thinking of pain lately. Recently I saw this writing prompt,
An idea that has stuck in my head has been that physiologically, pain in an area is associated with fewer neurons firing rather than normal pain free tissue. From an actual incident of being chased by monkeys and hearing the call of an old wise man saying, “Face the brutes.”, Vivekananda has this advice. “That is the lesson for all life – face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee before them. If we are ever to gain freedom, it must be by conquering nature, never by running away. Cowards never win victories. we have to fight fear and troubles and ignorance if we expect them to flee before us.” I am meeting my monkeys as I write, as I do my home practice. Some of them are mean, and sometimes it feels like an infestation, but they are just monkeys. So another reason to show up is for courage to face them.