The Meaning Of Pain

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Wow, I am so impressed with my daughter.


I spoke with her this evening and she has grown into such a smart, mature, and good person. 


We were talking about some hard times.


And she said to me so smartly (and I am so proud of her):

“The reason that we have pain is to avoid more pain.”


Wow…think about that for a moment. 


Everyone gets physical, emotional, and even spiritual pain in their lives. 


Even little things like stubbing your toe, getting a small burn, or a paper cut–these things give you a instant or more of pain…but it jolts you into attention of what to avoid and to action how to protect yourself to prevent further and worse pain down the road. 


A little pain now can fortunately save you a lot of pain later!


(Or in the gym they say, “No pain, no gain.”)


My father used to say about difficult life lessons:

“Better to cry now than to cry later!”


He was right–bad situations generally don’t get better with age. 


Continuing the discussion with my lovely daughter tonight, she said to me:

“A person becomes better when they struggle. I’ve become better by struggling.”


Again, like little pains, even larger struggles in life challenge us to learn, grow, and become better and stronger people. 


I remember as a kid–when we went through those growth spurts–it would actually hurt a little–some muscle aches here and some cramps there–whew, a few inches taller already. 


Growth hurts, but it’s kind of a good hurt that only someone with the emotional intelligence to understand maturity and betterment can really grasp. 


No, I’m not advocating for self-flagellation–just that we know when pain and struggle is a defining moment in life–like shaping and sharpening a great sword in fierce fire. 


It’s hot, but the heat is healing and necessary sometimes to grow as human and spiritual beings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Like Removing A Nail

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So you always hear about the techniques used when people are being tortured…one of them being have their nails ripped off.


Ouch!


So this week when I had a ingrown toenail removed, I said jokingly to the podiatrist:


“Do you do waterboarding also?”


Ok, funny, not-funny.  Still got a chuckle!


But in removing the nail, the technique is really so amazing.


They inject the toe with a local anesthetic, but hey even the injections into a sensitive toe could be pretty uncomfortable. 


So before the injection, they spray you toe with a freezing spray, so you don’t even feel the injections.


When he actually removed the nail and chemically destroyed the nailbed so it wouldn’t come back, I didn’t feel a thing.


I mean, I literally didn’t feel a thing!


It was a wonderful feeling–whatever he did, however much it would’ve hurt–it didn’t.


I thought to myself in a wave of anesthetic and freeze-numbed delight, this is absolutely wonderful.


No pain, not even a pinch. 


I could sense everything going on around me, take it in, think about it, even mull it over again and again, and just smile. 


In a way, I thought how wonderful life would be to have the ability to think in the head and feel from the heart, but have no pain or suffering in the body. 


Yes, there are plenty of damning and painful thoughts, memories, and heartaches, but for the body to be numb (even momentarily) to all the bad stuff that actually felt pretty good.


How would it feel if the mind and heart also felt no pain and only bliss–I smiled even more. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Face The Fear

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I have to give my wife credit. 


She said something to me the other day that was really profound and had a deep impact on me. 


Something bad had happened and honestly, it was a truly frightening situation.


At first, it seemed like one of those negative surprises in life that brings bad news and you are at first sort of shocked. 


As things progress though and the news unfortunately doesn’t get better, but in fact gets worse, the shock turns to fear and maybe even panic. 


Oh shit, what do I do now?


Turn this way..no good. 


Turn that way…no good.


Retreat…not an option.


So I speak to my wife, and at first she says:

“Just look away.”

But I can’t look away…I can’t ignore a problem…my instinct is that I have to plan for it, deal with it, solve it. 


I go back to my wife, and she says to me:

“Face the fear, and walk through it.”

And I had to stop in my tracks at that. 


She was right–there is no use being fearful or worrying–I would face it and walk through it, and come out the other side better for it. 


That was some of the best advice anyone I think has ever given to me. 


Got to be strong, have courage, face the challenges in life, and “walk through it!” 


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 


Have to have emunah (faith), and realize it’s just a test. 


And the Almighty G-d is my shield and protector. 


It’s a test, but I can pass it with G-d’s help, and everything will be alright. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Not (Always) Easy

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Sometimes, we see people–especially on social media these days–and they look “all that!”–so happy, so loved, so rich, so with everything–so it seems (superficially). 


But there is definitely another reality out there, and that is that everyone has problems:


– Family

– Health

– Finances

– Work

– School

– Conflict

– Spiritual


Like Helen Keller said: 

“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”


I remember as a child, if I felt sad about something, my dad at times would remind me about the children in the hospital, and to think about how we can help others less fortunate–and he was right!


What I see in life is a lot of people trying, but also so many challenges, failures, and suffering along the way…unfortunately, it’s part of the learning and growth equation, and in why we’re here. 


In college, I always remember one (English) professor who taught me from Henry David Thoreau:

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.”


Sometimes, in our solitude or when we speak quietly from our heart with our closest loved ones, we feel and express some of those deep feelings of hurt, pain, and suffering from our lives.  


Those experiences, memories, and feelings are not all that there is of us, but it is certainly a part of all of us–although maybe only the brave will admit theirs.


It’s not shameful to feel, to cry, and to be human. 


It’s certainly not what Facebook and Twitter are all about. 


But it’s a genuine and critical part of us which recognizes as my dad also taught me that–life is not easy–and that we have to fight every day to do our best and to help others to do theirs. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

There’s No Shield Against Loneliness

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Loneliness is empty, hollow, a panicky void, and depression. 


It’s like being in the ocean and feeling so small in its massive depths…almost like drowning. 


In the end, you are alone in the universe. 


No one can truly feel your pain or joy or experience all of you.


You’re a world unto yourself. 


You connect and form relationships with others–there is learning and growth and love and caring in that. 


Talking and reaching out and being part of someone and something washes away parts of those scary feelings and creates a greater purpose of being and meaning. 


But there is also silence and solitude and the darkness of the night. 


And in that there is just the faith in G-d Almighty. 


He alone is what comforts us as we stare into the vastness out there as well as the evil and loss that we come face-to-face with and combat in life. 


The soldier girds his sword for battle and carries a shield to protect himself.


But there is no shield for the loneliness we experience in life and ultimately in death itself. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Breaking The Bounds Of This World Thinking

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Coming from the Metro, someone stopped me and gave me this card for meditation, and I thought it was really insightful. 

“Changing the human mind to infinite universe mind”

Our minds are constrained by our mortality, materialism, and physical limitations of space and time. 

But if we free ourselves even momentarily from these, we can enter into a sort of limitless universal mindset.


“Human is incomplete because human are living inside human mind world which is one’s lived life and thoughts.”

We are beset by a near endless barrage of life’s fears and worries–like that we can’t fully perceive the metaphysical and spiritual world that is the real and meaningful one for us. 

“One can live forever and [when] he has escaped pain, burden, stress, and the countless kinds of agonies; his old self has disappeared and so it is great freedom.”

Through mindfulness, centered and balanced thinking, we can go above the “false world” and enter the “true world.”


Doesn’t this ring fundamental and true?


What an amazing approach to thinking that we can use elevate ourselves above what we live and see every day. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via Rockville Meditation)

People Literally Eating Garbage

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So I saw another homeless person yesterday eating out of the garbage on the street. 


They had flipped open the top, reached in, pulled out a half-drunk cup of something awful looking, and in one shot, gulped it down. 


I was choking watching this–it was so upsetting that any human being has to live this way. 


Like so many of these poor folks living off the streets, their belly was sick and widely distended. 


And their pants were very worn, with holes, and wrapped ill-fittingly around their waist. 


They dragged a small suitcase behind them. 


When people say that things are bad in their life, perhaps we often don’t stop to think about how bad things can really get (bli ayin hara).


G-d should have mercy on his children and bless us not to know any loss, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness or hunger.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)