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  • Mer Monson

Defying the Gravity of Pain

Most people beyond my inner circle have no idea that I hurt, a lot, somewhere between my head and my hips for at least a chunk of almost every day. I rarely publish it, partly because people tend to spontaneously try and solve it so I can return to being okay or, more accurately, so they can. They can’t see, at least for a while like I sometimes can’t, that I already am. After years and years of trying to fix it by looking outside and in, I do occasionally feel like a complete idiot that I haven’t figured it out yet. Especially given the world of possible roads out of pain and how many of them I’ve traveled. But the story I want to share isn’t that one. It’s the undeniable awakening inside the experience of pain that’s caught my attention.

Body pain, for many years of my life, has been a rich laboratory of looking, seeing, and transforming. Sometimes it seems that just about everything has changed but the pain itself. Until recently, I often gave my aching body credit for turning me into a seeker of truth, for propelling me into an easier way of being with myself in the world. There is still a grain of truth there, but catching a glimpse of the fact that EVERYTHING in my experience comes from the world of thought, not the world itself, has quieted the idea that anything “out there” has done anything to me at all.

As I’ve gingerly stepped from insight to insight, often with many months in between, I can’t help but notice that while I’m still crossing the terrain of discomfort, I’m on a vastly different continent. One without so many walls of impossibility. One without a closeted monster I have to duke it out with all the time. One where the pain is no longer a reason to put life on hold. Tears still fall when I’m in the thick of it, but my experience of the pain has morphed from a tsunami of suffering into, more often, a wave of stormy surface atop a hundred feet of quiet. I’ve stood on high enough ground to see who I am beneath and beyond and before the pain, the presence untouched by any of it. I’ve seen, all the way to my toes, that being in pain can’t actually get in the way of my own peace or in the way of deeply connecting with other humans, no matter how long it lasts.

Just last week, in the midst of a three-day headache, a thought I’ve chased for years fell right through the floor of my thinking into an obvious spiritual fact - it’s not my fault. The pain is not my fault. The depth at which I saw the truth of this landed me in the full light of my innocence and the relief was astounding. I saw the old tired rut of guilt and blame for what it was, just a well-traveled groove of thinking that hurts when I think it. I saw more cleanly than ever before that pain, without the elephant-sized meaning attached that I’m failing at life, is just another flavor of being alive without even an ounce of suffering in it. The mountain range of meaning I’ve given the pain that causes it to hurt so much is still dissolving, but I am beginning to see I’ve made it into something solid when it isn’t.

Will I ever move beyond it? Will I ever feel the sheer joy of smacking a tennis ball again without feeling 90 the next day? I dunno. I sure hope so. I hope the pain fades away like a sunset when I’m looking the other way enjoying my life, but discovering and bathing in the place from which it doesn’t matter has already made all the difference. That gorgeous healing place where I know I’m more than okay even without any answers, and where any eventual answers will arise, including the ones that take me out in the world for help. Sinking into this truth has already set me free. I’m falling head-over-heels in love with the infinite space where I’m free to play with feeling strong from the knowing that I already am. There is an endless supply of hope and joy there. The light, shining out my eyes, tells me so.

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