My body is in pain all the time.
It’s something that I have lived with all of my life. The technical name is fibromyalgia, which is Latin for “your muscles hurt and we have no clue why”. I have some ways of managing it–I tend to hurt less if I don’t eat mammal fat and processed flour products, for example–but it’s not something that ever really goes away.
Pain gives one an interesting perspective on life. The whole question of what one wants to do is marginalized. What I want to do is lie down and not move ever. Since that really isn’t an option, my decisions are a matter of juggling obligations–which of the things that I don’t want to do are things that I have to do, and which ones can I avoid?
It also gives one a kind of desperate physical courage. Most people, I believe, want to avoid pain. That isn’t an option for me. So I am not afraid of things that most people are afraid of. There is an internal censor in most people’s minds that looks at options and sounds a red alert when something could result in pain–in my mind that censor gave up and put down his bullhorn a long time ago.
Having an intimate (if, I’ll admit, not entirely healthy) relationship with physical pain has allowed me some very intense moments in my life. I tend to deal with threats against my person with an eyeroll and a challenge. You want to hurt me? Fine, go for it. I’ll let you know if I feel it.
If I were to be honest, and to the dismay of those who know me I often am, I’d have to say that I am grateful for whatever biochemical misapprehension it is encoded in my genetic pattern that makes some parts of my body let slip the dogs of war and cry havoc against other parts. Pain has made me who I am, and as I slither past the half-century mark I realize that I am mostly happy with who that is.
I can’t take credit for it. I didn’t design myself, and the Engineer who built me ignored my suggestions. Case in point–I don’t have tentacles. Tentacles would be so cool, I would love to be able to just be able to snake out a limb to reach under something without having to worry about these bones fitting in. But Someone decided that endoskeletons were the way to build a mammal, and who am I to be critical?
I’ll admit, it makes me grumpy. I grumble, I cuss, and my bad moods are legendary. People tend to be scared of me. I’m never sure if people who like me are people who like being scared or people with the perspicuity to see my heart of gold under my prickly, unpleasant exterior. (Ah, but “Gold is a cold, heavy metal” says The Spike.) (And I will send a signed copy of my book of your choice to the first person who can identify the source of that quote.)
In any event, I’m not sure why I felt obliged to share that about myself. Does it shed any illumination on me as a writer? I think it does, actually. I think it helps keep my prose spare. I have lived a life concerned with essentials. I have trained myself to think in terms of limit paths, of solving the game with minimal moves. By telling my readers only what is important I make them fill in the rest.
More than anything else it has taught me not to judge another person’s life. I only see one side of your ledger, I don’t know what it has cost you to get where you are.