Monday, June 13, 2011

shitty shitty yin yang

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the last few weeks, primarily revolving around the topic of shit (particularly of the bowel movement and the list kinds) and after my considerable fixation eventually subsided came the lucid realization of how closely it is linked to pain. Which reminded me of a joke my dad used to tell of the organs of the human body arguing about which of them performed its most vital function for survival and therefore should be proclaimed its ruler, until the dismissed anus went on strike. But I digress.

So I started thinking (fine, fixating) about how we implicitly know of this connection already, even when we are not conscious of it. In fact, it’s very much a part of our lexicon. Allow me to illustrate:
The shit will hit the fan. Translation: Someone, somewhere, will feel a lot of pain soon.
I don’t give a shit: Hurts too much so I’m in denial.
I got my own shit to deal with. Take your pain and get out of my face.
Eat shit and die. Preferably a slow and painful death.
I’m in deep shit. I shall receive a massive amount of pain very soon.
You’re in deep shit. If this was happening to me, it wouldn’t be funny at all.
You are full of shit. Okay, this one may not be a good example, but I still like the sound of it.

But I digress.

So shit, therefore pain. “Why pain?” I pondered, “why do we have to feel pain at all?” as I swallowed two more capsules of Tylenol with Codeine.

Which started me thinking about yin and yang. I totally buy the concept that polar opposites are actually two ends of the same spectrum and very much necessary to validate one another. For example “ugly” and “pretty” are natural dualities of the idea of beauty; without seeing ugliness one cannot possibly grasp or appreciate something beautiful; it must be juxtaposed with its opposite, butt-ugliness, to attain its full quality. Dichotomies like these are everywhere, says the Chinese philosophy: good and evil, or good and bad, healthy and sick, dark and light, black and white, life and death, tall and short, fat and skinny, and so on..

If we follow the logic, then, pain and pain-free would be indispensible to one another. But this particular yin-yanger, which should work seamlessly in principal, leaves me incredulous as to its real life application. If we must suffer pain to appreciate being rid of it, then, to truly appreciate being pain-free, we must see/think/feel pain. Except for one major problem: when we are not in pain, we don’t think about it nor do we want to. We forget it as soon as it’s gone and don’t want to remember it. Many analysts have built and renovated houses, bought yachts, put their kids through private school, all funded by their work of coaxing patients into voluntarily reminiscing about painful events in their lives. You would be hard pressed to find any woman in her right mind willingly getting pregnant again if she didn’t completely forget the pain of childbirth from the last time around (27 hours of full-blown labor culminating in a c-section with botched anesthesia, sure, I wanna recall every detail! Are you high? no thankyouverymuch). And when we are writhing in pain, we cannot begin to imagine being without it, it's just too all-consuming to allow for any other thought (try to ignore an itch next time you get one). So why bother?

Granted, I was heavily medicated for most of the time I spent on these thoughts, but am I on to something here? What do you think: Do we really need pain, is it really doing its yin part? Aren’t painkillers the best invention ever? Conversely, are we really pain-free, ever?

Feel free to let me know.


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