A Casual Conversation About Pain

“I am well acquainted with pain.”  She said dryly, as she ran her finger tips through the wet condensation that had gathered on her glass.  The beads of water pooling, and dripping down the slick surface, like tears or sweat drops down the curvature of a cheek.

She continues, “The pain has always overshadowed the excitement, or the gratitude.  It has more… longevity.  See, I can savor excitement for a moment, and only a moment, for excitement isn’t sustainable.  I can meditate on gratitude, and it will swell, and grow; but once I leave that meditation, gratitude dissipates into something subtle; like catching the smell of blossoms in the wind.  The pain is so strong and sturdy, it can weather any storm and become stronger because of the storm.  The companionship of pain, get’s me through the day.”

She appears to be caught in some reverie, contemplating her relationship with that one pervasive companion.  She wonders how she’s stuck around this long in such an abusive and imbalanced relationship.  She questions if this fate is written in her genetics, folded into the crevasse’s of her brain tissue, pulsing through her veins.  Is she, her own inescapable pain?  Is it a destiny?

A shadow comes over her eyes,  and she stares down into the shallow watery pool inside of her glass.

“It’s unavoidable, you know?  And you can’t prepare for it; you can’t just schedule it into your calendar.  You can co-exist with it, like co-existing with a bad roommate that you tend to avoid and ignore.  Pain is just trashing you on the inside, and you just don’t have the energy to deal with it; so you go somewhere else, and do something else with someone else… but the whole time, at the back of your mind, you are thinking ‘I eventually have to go home, and deal with all this bullshit.’  And it’s tedious, you know?  It’s like… it’s just hard enough to get by without unintentionally upsetting some one else… but Pain, Pain doesn’t care who it upsets.  Pain doesn’t care that they are ravaging your house.  Pain doesn’t give a shit about protecting your cherished memories, or putting things back nicely.  Pain, is kind of just a big home wrecker.”

She spins the water glass by it’s stem with one hand, and draws lines in the condensation with the other.  Spinning and spinning until their are continuous lines encircling the goblet.

“Pain is cyclical.  You can almost plan for it… almost.  But, it’s smart, and feisty.  Say you expect a visit on around the 20th… Pain shows up on the 15th.  Early, but somehow on time.  It’s like it KNOWS exactly when shit is going to hit the fan.  Pain loves to be at the center of a good solid shit show.  I mean, Pain is a god damn mess, who always expects some one else to do the clean up.  I have been cleaning up that bitches mess, for DECADES.  Some messes are bigger than others… Pain hasn’t made a huge mess in a while… and so I can’t help but think, the next big mess is just around the corner.  That it’s going to be a bigger mess than ever before; like it will be all the messes of ever, and then some… then what am I going to do?  I just don’t have it in me to keep going like this.” 

The bartender, silent until now, refills her glass of water.  The delicate dissolving ice cubes tickling the inside of the glass and melting into the greater volume of liquid.  They both stare at the way the ice dissipates, growing smaller and smaller into little slivers until they finally disappear.

The bartender finally speaks, “Maybe pain is the ice, and you are the water.  The colder you become, the longer you will hold onto that pain;  however, the warmer you become, the less pain you can sustain holding.  Your warmth will shrink the pain until it appears that it is gone.  You are water.  You can freeze; you can vary in temperature, you can heat up so hot, that you just float away into some bigger collective of moisture.  You can expand and contract.  Ice… Ice expands.  Ice is heavy, yet it floats. It’s dense like Pain.  Steam is also expansive, but it’s so light that it floats on air as a vapor. Steam is like the memory of pain.  A veil of our collective pain that we have warmed up to the point that it floats away.  It’s still there somewhere, but it isn’t holding us down, it isn’t freezing us.  It just exists in some different form, and our relationship with it changes.  We realize, we are all water, and the ice is water as much as the vapor is water.  It’s still a part of us.”

She sits back in her seat, both palms resting on the edge of the bar.  She contemplates this analogy; imagining herself trudging through the streets with her body covered in heavy bags of ice.  She thinks about how the walk would get easier on a hot day, and how on a freezing day, the walk would be unbearable.

“How do you control the weather?”  She asks.

The bartender pauses from wiping the pools of liquid that have accumulated on the bar.

“You can’t control the weather everywhere.  You can only control your mico-climate.  If you are sick of the cold, quit hanging around Polar bears or get a thicker sweater; either way, realize no matter where you go, there is always going to be water. And if that doesn’t suit you try living in the desert, where you will find that not having water in it’s many forms, will bring a different sort of pain and discomfort.   The desire to be quenched.  Right now you experience being drenched in Pain, but you aren’t drowning.”

“You are right.  I am not drowning… and I have no desire to be burnt to a crisp.  You’ve given me some things to contemplate.  And, thank you for the water.”


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