A Lesson in Pain
He said life is cruel and she had no reason to doubt him. She went through the catalogue of the last decades of her own life, then broadened her thoughts to a world of poverty, disaster and hatred.
Life is cruel. It can be cruel.
I’m not here to blow sunshine up your ass, I’m here to teach you to endure, he said.
Life is cruel, and so is a sadist.
Tell me if you like the cane, he said. No, she replied, I do not like the cane.
Wrong answer. Life is cruel, and consequently painful.
Shoo, the cane went through the air. Cutting like a whip, faking a blow, never landing on her skin. She flinched. Every muscle, tensed for the cruelty of life to hit. Her jaw, her buttocks, her fists, clenched. Toes curled, eyes scrunched, the anticipation of pain, the tightening of her mind around a 2 foot long stick of bamboo; braced for impact, but how long, could one brace for? Eternally.
Life is cruel. The crack of the cane across her buttocks, this pain was no fake.
The white hot sear made her cry out, and she swore through her teeth. She tensed her neck to see the next blow fall to her thigh, then her other thigh. Two, then three, how many cracks of the cane before she saw. Too many.
Life is cruel. To say it is not is to lie to oneself, it is a hard truth. There is no life that begins, without an end. That should be proof enough.
Crack goes the cane. Welts rise, skin flushes, and the mind writhes to sort the chaos, of feeling the cruelty of life.
Do you like the cane? He asked again. Yes, she replied.
Crack goes the cane. Her body doesn’t lie, she does not like the cane. Her mind and body writhed in sync.
The fake blows, whizzed through the air, as her skin burned and rose in response, a response to her lesson in pain.
Life is cruel. But that’s not all it is.
She lowered her forehead to the burbur rug, buttocks up, exposed to the elements of life.
Skin to flesh
One breath in, a sinking into the uncomfortable floor, and a surrender to another blow.
You stopped fighting the pain there, he said, you see, it only makes it worse.
She knew before he spoke the words out loud. Her body knew, and her minds chaos settled in this truth. Aware that every flinch, every tightening, every chaotic piece of her mind, would only lend to more cruelty in tomorrow.
Kneel, he said.
She rose, make up burning her eyes, flushed, swollen and red and life’s teacher before her.
Crawl, he said, and he led her to the shower.
Get in, he said, but stay kneeling.
The shower bordered on scalding. Water pouring over her head, shoulders, travelling across each welt with reminders of the heat from the cruelty of the cane.
Not from life. From him.
Separating pain from blame, acceptance from surrender.
Separating cause and effect.
She did not want a lesson in pain. She did not want to live in the uncomfortable realm of accepting life as cruel. But she did not want to live as victim, but rather as endurer.
To push beyond the pain, to see what lays beneath. Push into the pain, not against. See what you can birth, he said, when you stop fighting the pain, and see your strength.
The water fell across her lips, her ears rung with truth, her hair plastered to her pretty pale face. The sound of the faucet, being turned off and a towel being laid across her back. A chin titled to her Teacher and a smile received.
Life may be cruel. But it is not void of redemption inside the pain. If only we could just learn, to let go.