Meditations on Pain (and ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ because I am not Zen)

I’m meditating on my balcony. (And by ‘meditating’ I mean shifting in my seat and internally yelling at myself to STOP THINKING AND BE MORE ZEN).

Internally wondering what to eat for my second lunch. (Photo credit: Connor Downey.
Internally wondering what to eat for my second lunch. (Photo credit: Connor Downey.

The dishwasher is clunking away in the kitchen. I can hear it through the window. The water spitting into the sink, the steady electronic beep every fifteen minutes.

I’m thinking about the pile of dirty dishes still on the counter, all of the housework that I still have to do. And that scene in “Catch Me If You Can” when Martin Sheen’s character and his wife are dancing as they do the dishes. Maybe I wouldn’t mind doing dishes so much if I had someone who would dance with me while I did them. And–


My stool digs into the back of my legs. My shoulders slump. The dishwasher beeps. Fifteen minutes.

Okay, I think. Okay. Just sit here until the next beep.

A streak of pain curves up my back. I sit straight. Bones crack.* I grit my teeth, opening my eyes. Bright light. Hot sun.

This is stupid.

An itch on my leg. An urge to scratch.

Just go inside and watch TV. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone.

But, I don’t. I sit still. I wait for the dishwasher to beep (I am a very stubborn person).

FINE. If you’re going to sit here, you may as well make it a good experience.

Something in me breaks through. A lightness. And then I hear it. The leaves shivering. A soft breeze running off the ocean. Cars passing below. A burst of laughter, a conversation. Beyond, a hum. The city. Closer, my watch ticking. Closer still, my heartbeat.

The beep comes more quickly than expected.

I open my eyes, becoming aware. My back still hurts, the stool is still digging into the back of my legs, there’s a crick in my neck.

But, there was a moment when I saw past that. When I sat with the discomfort instead of fighting against it.

Sometimes that’s how I try to look at bad days. Yes, there’s pain. Lots of it. And anxiety, too. Because, living with a chronic illness means living with those things. Daily. And sometimes that’s all I want to think about (and it feels like it’s the only thing to think about).

But, just beyond the pain and the anxiety, there is living. Soft breezes and heartbeats and the city’s hum. And those are things worth paying attention to.

So, I sit beside the pain. I try to listen. I try to make it something good.



* My sister, reading this: Bones crack? How old are you?

Me: I’m an old fucker, okay?


10 thoughts on “Meditations on Pain (and ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ because I am not Zen)

  1. This is a fabulous post, RG. And it’s something that, I think, a lot of people can relate to. I know it hits a soft spot for me. I don’t have a chri is illness such as yours, but I do suffer from an anxiety disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. And I deal with the things you described on a daily basis. Reading this actually gave me a little hope. 😊 Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m laughing and smiling so much because my own meditation struggles are beyond similar 🙂 I love the last thought “beyond the pain and the anxiety, there is living….and those things are worth paying attention to.” I think meditation helps us realize the good in ourselves and the stuff around us more than actually makes the brain quiet. Thanks for the fantastic post!

    Liked by 1 person

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