PAIN AND GAIN? NO SUBSTITUTE FOR USING YOUR BRAIN

Rabbi Ben Hei says, “According to the pain is the gain.”

— Pirkei Avot 5:21 (second century)


NO PAINS, NO GAINS.

If little labour, little are our gains:
Man’s fate is according to his pains.

Hesperides 752 (1650)


Industry need not wish, as Poor Richard says, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no gains, without pains …

— as reprinted in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth (1758)


Jane Fonda didn’t invent it. Neither did that guy at the gym you think is god.

The concept has been lying around waiting to become popular slang for almost 2000 years. It didn’t refer to matters physical, either. It referred to your soul, to charity, to work in general. It was never intended to be taken literally.

Just because words rhyme, doesn’t make them a concept, doesn’t mean they relate to each other. Or that it’s a concept that applies to your aching body rather than your dark, mean-spirited soul.

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Pain is a body’s way of warning us something is wrong. Ignore it at your own risk. Acknowledging there are minor pains we all typically ignore because we know what they are, know they aren’t important, there are plenty of others you ignore at your peril.

How about the pain in your chest that signals heart trouble? How about that pain in your breast that says “don’t ignore that lump?” Or the shooting pain down one leg when you knock your spine out of alignment? How about the searing one when you dislocate a shoulder? Or the one, accompanied by an ugly snap which says “Hey, you just tore your Achilles tendon!”

Before you go ignoring a pain, make sure you know what that pain is trying to tell you. Try not to replace thinking with a motto.

I hate clichés. They are the latest fad in the long advance of stupidity.


Daily Post: Pains and Gains

 

THE FARM AND THE HOUSE

cows in the pasture

The cows are happy. The chickens are happy. The corn is growing, joyously absorbing sunshine and rain. Three generations live on the farm … and the land has been in the family as long as anyone can remember.

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The farm-house

The work is hard, season after season. But the people … they look happy too. Maybe it’s living with the soil and the animals. Letting the seasons dictate what there is to be done.

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Corn is ready

Autumn is coming. The corn will be gone, the cows will no longer graze and sleep in the green pasture along the river. Ice and snow will cover the ground. Even the chickens will huddle in their coops. Everyone and everything will wait for spring to come again. Fortunately, it always comes.

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DAY IS DONE. ME TOO

It was one of Those Days. Started out normal. We had to get up a bit early because I had a doctor appointment and even though we left plenty of time, we got out of the house a bit late. Time slipped away.

My appointment went fine. Next stop? Grocery store.

We couldn’t get to the store. There had been a fire. Or something. The street was closed. Not the whole street, just the couple of hundred feet in front of the parking lot. Other than the fire engine with the flashing lights, there was no hint of a fire, or any evidence of anything. No smoke. No injuries. No water on the street. No crime scene tape. A blocked street where we needed to go. They were allowing cars to drive through from the other direction. So there was no legitimate reason we couldn’t go a few dozen feet to Hannaford’s parking lot. But nope, we had to take the detour.

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Uxbridge not being a real city, a detour isn’t a quick trip around a city block. We were in Douglas before we could start looping back to town. By which time they had parked the fire truck and there were no official obstructions.

Shopping concluded, leaving town was our next trial. Civic excitement is rare in our little town, so everyone had to take a long look at the … what? Fire? Crime scene? False alarm? One of the rubberneckers was riding a bicycle. We were behind him, trying to drive at 1 mph. As soon as we (finally) got around him, someone pulled out of a side street, slowed down to about 10 mph. Directly in front of us. We crawled home. Karma is.

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Groceries unpacked. Television turned on. Surprise! Half our premium channels aren’t working. “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.” I call Charter. They’ve been having a bad week too and this is my third call in two days. Any day I have to call Charter is not a great day.

After a long hold, the agent assures me they are merely doing (more) repair work, but hope it will be finished any day now. They’ll call when it’s finished. Maybe even today. I go to make dinner and step in a pool of dog pee. I don’t know which of the little furry menaces did it, but I don’t get it. Why? They’ve got their own door and it isn’t even raining.

Eventually, dinner having been served, eaten, and cleared, the phone rings. Charter (recorded message) says “Repairs are complete, thank you for your patience.” But it is not fixed. Half the hi-def channels are “Temporarily Off the Air. Try Again Later.”

Any day on which I have to call Charter once is not great. Twice? Very bad. They tell me to reboot. They send a repair signal. My channels do not come back. They can’t get a tech here until Thursday.  I am grumpy, but make the appointment. I need to write it down, so I turn on the light.

The bulb explodes.

My day is done.

UP FOR THE SUNRISE

Getting up for the dawn … really getting up … not just getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, then huddling back under the covers … means I’m going to take pictures. At home, the eastern sky is blocked by the trees. Though I’ve occasionally shot a few pictures of the sun between the trees, there’s no clear sky anywhere to really catch the dawn.

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So, up for the dawn inevitably means I’m on vacation. Probably somewhere in New England because mostly, that is where we live and also where we spend our free time.

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The last time I intentionally got up for the rising sun was Ogunquit, Maine. We were staying in a little resort a few blocks from the beach. An easy walk. It was September, so sunrise was still pretty early, in the five o’clock region. Garry is an admirer of the dawn, but not a willing participant in any activity that forces him out of bed before he is good and ready.

Busy Beach Pre Dawn

Thus that morning, I had set the alarm for four. It was still dark. I dressed, grabbed my gear, and headed out. No time to waste because dawn is fleeting, over almost before you have a chance to focus your camera.

Dawn Flight

It was a short walk to the beach. The sun wasn’t up when I got there, but the beach was far from empty. There are a surprisingly large number of people on the beach before sunup. Humans include runners, strollers, and veteran dawn watchers … and I suppose a few photographers. I didn’t see any others, but surely someone besides me had a camera.

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And birds. Big black-back gulls, laughing gulls, terns and plovers. It’s breakfast time by the water’s edge.

I started shooting as soon as I arrived, the mist still lying heavily on the shore. As soon as the sun started to work its way up, the mist vanished. From pre-dawn glow to full light is no more than 10 minutes, likely less. I took as many pictures as I could, then went home for coffee and something. It was a great early morning shoot.

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NEW DAWN – Daily Prompt

REVISITING OLD NUMBER TWO – DIALOGUE

DIALOGUE – WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – OLD NUMBER TWO

old number 2 fire engine

Views of my favorite old fire engine. I know, on one level, that he is an inanimate object. A truck. Metal and glass and rubber. An engine that ceased running years ago. A fire truck whose time came and went.

old number 2 fire engine truck

Despite knowing this, I feel like this old truck holds history in his rusty body. Memories. Fires, rescues. History.

OLD NUMBER TWO FIRE ENGINE

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way because the countryside has many veteran trucks and other vehicles quietly rusting in fields, often keeping company with the growing corn and the grazing cows and sheep.

old number two fire engine wheel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We invest our things with personality. Maybe we can’t help it. We are alive and we share at least the sense of life with those things with which we share our world.

Old number 2 fire engine truck

BELLWETHERS AMONG US – WHERE THEY GO, WE FOLLOW

Connie Willis_1996_Bellwether

I read Bellwether again. Finished it the other day. Each time I read it — this is the 4th or 5th time — I learn something new.

Bellwether grabbed me from page one … from sentence one. Not merely was I highly entertained by the story, but I learned a lot about chaos theory, fads, sheep, and the meaning of “bellwether,” a term I’d heard and used — and misused — for years, but never entirely understood.

It was the bellwether and sheep connection I never got. What do I know about sheep? And why would I care? It turns out, sheep and people have an unnerving amount in common.

A bellwether is a leader of sheep, an über ewe, the sheep who the flock follows. There’s no visible reason why a bellwether leads and nor any obvious reason why the flock follows. There is just something about that ewe.

What the bellwether does, the other sheep do too. The flock will follow her — mindlessly, blindly — over a cliff if that’s where she leads. The flock doesn’t know it’s following the bellwether. They just do it.

Humans have bellwethers too. We no more recognize our bellwethers than does a flock of sheep. Still we follow them. An atavistic instinct, embedded in our DNA? Some are born to lead, others to follow. A few to walk a unique path.

The book is laugh-out-loud funny. Erudite, witty, and replete with trivia guaranteed to upgrade your anecdotal skills.

Bellwether suggests answers to previously unanswerable questions. Why do people vote against their own self-interest? Why do we do so many stupid things? The answer? We’re following a bellwether. They are loose amongst us, invisible shakers and movers. Unaware of their effect on the people around them.

You should read this book. It also explains a lot of events throughout history which have never made any kind of sense. Even after you know all the facts of what happened, most of history doesn’t make sense. But if you add in a few critical bellwethers, it all comes clear.

Human life, history and relationships are illogical. They just happen. We can explain them only in retrospect. That’s what historians are for, after all. To make sense of the past because it won’t make sense by itself. Human society is chaotic. The only predictable thing is unpredictability.

I found Bellwether original, insightful, amusing and thought-provoking. Highly entertaining and funny. I can’t imagine what more anyone could want from a book. I recommend it both in print (Kindle or paper) and audio. It is a book you will read and remember.

Then read it again. There’s more to it than you will get in a single reading.

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT: EAVESDROPPING

I hate eavesdropping and eavesdroppers. I know it’s the stuff of bedroom farce and half the plot lines of who know how many murder mysteries and episodes of Law and Order. I still hate it.

Let’s think about Heathcliff. You know, the tortured anti-hero of Wuthering Heights. He heard half a conversation Cathy was having with her maidservant and ruined — how many lives? — because he didn’t wait around for the rest of the story. Nor did he even have the courtesy to question Cathy about what he heard before racing off into the night.

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How much misery could have been saved by the simple expedient of asking “Cathy, I overheard you saying some really bad stuff about me the other day. Did I miss something? Because I’m really upset about it, but before I go away mad, I thought I’d let you give me your side of the story.”

It wouldn’t have made for such dramatic literature, but it would have made a lot more sense. I get completely, batshit crazy when I see this in movies and on television. I refuse to watch any further. It infuriates me that people can be so stupid. And stupid has really been sweeping the nation as an epidemic in recent years.

So the answer is, I don’t eavesdrop. If I can’t avoid hearing something, I do my damnedest to get OUT of hearing range because I do not want to overhear anything. It’s rude and it leads to misery and misunderstanding. Eavesdroppers — especially chronic eavesdroppers — are troublemakers, rumor mongers, and back-stabbers. I’m not one of them and I hope you aren’t, either.