BUFFALO, NY – Not to be a downer, but it’s true. There have been a number of heavy questions soggying down my brain lately. Some of those questions are being pondered and explored necessarily as part of life, some are likely just a part of some minor level (I hope) of insanity and mental disease.
I’m trying to be amusing, but physical health issues are always troublesome, and waiting months for tests starts to play with my mind.
As someone who has dealt with chronic pain in my joints and gastrointestinal tract for decades now, I can tell you that it’s been my experience that they can’t get rid of pain. Some medications can change the nature of pain, but filling my bloodstream with otherwise toxic chemicals to change a sharp, throbbing pain to a warm, intermittent pain just isn’t worth it. (I’ve probably been on 15 different arthritis meds since elementary school. More harm than good so far.)
There are also changes in diet which can help mitigate pain or terrible symptoms or potential outcomes. Depending on how much a part of your life this food you’re forced to abandon is, the physical pain that’s relieved by abstaining from it can lead to similarly toll-taking mental anguish. (I’m in the sixth year of eating gluten-free, and I’m just starting to accept it.)
Exercise is a great way to get rid of pain caused my not moving around as much as I should, and “knocking the rust off” actually feels pretty good. But it’s by nature, working out is accompanied by the “good pain” of exercising. “Good pain” is still pain. (I should exercise more, but I am lazy. When I do hit then gym, I don’t pussyfoot around. I get a good workout and hurt afterwards. Like ya should.)
Having dealt with and thought about these ideas most of my life, it shapes my thoughts on the other big issues also sloshing around in the stormy seas between my ears. I’ve learned through years of personal experience and shattered notions, that any measure of the “grass is greener” philosophy is a fairy tale.
Pain can’t be eliminated, but it can be changed. Sometimes for the better. So too can the nature of the grass be changed.
To stretch the metaphor too far, a different shade of green doesn’t make it any more green. To stretch the metaphor to the point where a reader might want to cause physical harm to the writer, you might have to mow that species of grass over there half as much, but you might not realize you have to water it twice as often.
Desired change always begets unanticipated change. And while sometimes overall change is needed, it kills me bracing for those unanticipated changes and deciding if those as-yet-unknown changes are worth it.
None of this is any kind of breaking news flash; it’s what most of us face on a daily basis. But it seems a little more weighty on this end lately. We all get bogged down from time to time. Maybe I just need to find some gluten-free fiber supplements.
But today, as I took a quick walk to knock out the cobwebs and get refocused, my countenance improved greatly just by the sight of a guy walking my way.
Now my wife can probably just about picture the guy I’m talking about. When we’re people watching, I can’t help but make comments about happy-go-lucky, smiling little old guys. It’s really what I want to be when I grow up: a white-haired smiling man, walking a bit slowly, taking in and loving life.
From 100 yards away, looking at this guy today I knew he had it all going on. His gait was a bit slow, but cool. He was wearing a beige straw fedora; a dapper, perfectly fitting-yet 20 year old navy blue suit, a fresh flower on his lapel, and a handkerchief in his breast pocket. He was also carrying a leather briefcase.
As he got closer, it was obvious this gentleman was likely around 80, and I got the impression that this was an important day out, and that he was quite pleased with having the occasion to have an important day out. I’ll bet the briefcase hadn’t left the closet shelf in a few years, but was a necessary accessory today.
Just as I was about to say, “Good morning, sir,” as this fine fellow approached, his smiling face beat me to the punch with an identical “Good morning, sir.” Not only the same words I was about to use, but even the same cadence and inflection. I was like I was talking to myself 50 years into the future.
“Good morning to you, sir,” I responded, “and how are you?”
“Splendid,” said the man in the straw hat and lapel flower, as he strolled on to his day’s affairs.
I want that kind of splendor. To hope to be as splendid as this man appeared is like hoping to win the lottery. Or for me, like hoping to eat normal bread someday. It’s not a healthy thing to be fixated with, but it’s something nice to daydream about from time to time.
While I know the grass isn’t always greener, it’s all worth the effort to pay it forward; to aim to be splendid enough to have my splendidity spill over, to share with people who might need a little bit. Just like this gentleman did today.
Splendid thought, isn’t it?