Living in the Painful Moment

Breathe and release. Catch and release. Feel the pain. Release.


Living with chronic pain in the new year overtook all intentions to create a serious list of resolutions, a mindful sense of purpose for the next many months. Instead, I amend my daily to-do-lists in new ways.

Do I need to take all those steps down the grocery dairy aisle? Can we survive another day without yogurt?

When writing lesson plans for training classes, I consider how long I will stand at the computer, clicking forward through powerpoint slides. How long must I perch atop those brutal folding metal chairs? More classroom breaks, more often!

I choose to drive or be the passenger based on which leg or hip is aching more. My right side? I willingly relinquish the car keys. My left side? Move over and let me drive, please!

If ever I failed to empathize appropriately with anyone experiencing pain of any kind, I beg forgiveness.

The Dali Lama proposes: “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

I imagine my physical therapy regimen will require pain. I will be coached to push through it, to conquer the suffering and get to the other side. My new orthopedic doctor diagnosed me with one x-ray and three pokes of a single finger–once to the fleshy part of each hip, once to my lower back. The doctor stated he was referring me to his partner, a spine and bursitis specialist, to treat me for severe arthritis in my lower lumbar region and bursitis in both hips. I had thought an old muscle injury flared up. I was wrong.

Humbled, I remain hopeful. I explore my tolerance for things outside my control and re-acquaint myself with the adage that it’s not the pain or the suffering as much as how you respond to it. So there lies my resolution, my aspiration.

Feel the pain. Release.

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