Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Thought on Pain

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay

My six-month-old baby loves the outdoors. He can be wailing like the world will end, but when the hubby takes him outside, he sucks in a deep breath, stares around him, startled, and calms down.* This is the case even when it’s ridiculously cold, cold enough that I don’t want to go outside at all. It’s too uncomfortable. This made me wonder: Does he not register the same things as painful and uncomfortable as I do?  It seems like the experience of cold is still novel to him, something interesting and unique and beautiful instead of something to be avoided at all costs.

I’m an unmedicated birth advocate,** and so I’ve thought a lot about how we see pain. When I look at the pain of childbirth, I think of it much the same way I hear runners talk about marathons—painful and difficult, but eminently worth it. Runners can come out of the experience feeling amazing, even if they’re pathetically sore, out of breath, exhausted. In a lot of ways it’s the meaning we attach to the experience that determines how we come out of it.

Which brings me to the subject of writing. For most writers seeking publication, there is a lot of rejection, pain, growth, difficulty. A couple months ago I got a rejection letter I’m still reeling from a little; the other rejections haven’t hurt the way this one did—and that has been partially because of the meaning I attached to it.***

But I’m thinking that maybe I—and the rest of us—can try to learn to take it the way my baby does. To him, it just adds to his life experience; the cold is just input, something to learn from and enjoy for its sheer novelty. Granted, rejection isn’t going to be a rare occurrence for most of us, but I think maybe we can learn to appreciate it as part of the process—painful and difficult, but eminently worth it.

* Well, most of the time.
** Yes, I think it’s awesome and a great way to go. No, I’m not going to look down at anyone else for doing something different.
*** But let’s skip the therapy session for today and just say ouch.


  1. This is so true! I try to embrace the idea that the entire point of obstacles is to prove ourselves strong enough to overcome them. When I hear “no”, then I take a step back and ask, “why?” Sometimes the answer is something I can’t control, so I just give that to God and trust that He knows what He’s doing. But if it’s something I can control, then I see that “no” as a way of teaching me what is required of me and challenging me to be better.

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