I got one of those irritating e-mail thingys the other day, one of those lists of questions that you’re supposed to answer in order to “get to know your friends better” (what ever happened to going out for drinks?). You’re supposed to fill in the blanks – what is your favourite movie? do you prefer ketchup or mustard? – and send it back to the sender as well as forward it to everyone you know.
Being particularly fond of the sender in this case, I read the questions, though did not reply with my own answers. One of the questions on this form was something like “what is the most intense pain you have ever experienced?” The sender and most of the reply-to-allers reported that childbirth was the most intense pain they had ever experienced. And certainly, they must be right.
But, lo! out of the blue, one of the repliers was an old friend I haven’t seen for 10 years, maybe more. Someone I correspond with perhaps once every few years but think of with great affection. His very interesting answer was: “the body doesn’t remember pain.”
The body doesn’t remember pain. It’s a terrible and beautiful turn of phrase – almost like the start of a poem – and so it stuck in my head. I initially disagreed – vehemently. Who hasn’t felt heartbreak physically when the bottom drops out of her stomach or works itself into sly stubborn knots in her shoulders? Who doesn’t have scars from altercations with the world? It made me think of an old yoga teacher of mine, who used to talk about the “pain-body,” which she thought of as this energetic internal “body” inside your real body, and I thought of more metaphorically. Either way, the idea was that your body stores pain, probably until it became an essential part of you, part of your identity almost. The body remembers too much, was the idea.
But maybe my old friend is right. Maybe the body doesn’t remember pain. Let’s pretend that’s the case, even if we don’t quite believe. Because then it’s easy to literally shrug off the past. Set your mind on a new way of being, and let your body forget. Let this be your new year’s resolution.
Oooh, Chicklets, too much heavy philosophy! The next entry shall either be about Lily’s ongoing celebrity crush or some such thing, I promise.