I ran into someone the other day whom I know experiences chronic pain. He looked tired, and I asked if I could do anything for him. He shrugged, and smiled, and suggested that I walk with him for a few minutes.
I need to stretch my legs, he observed. And so, we moved around the room for a few minutes, gazing at the people gathered for the event which was about to start. Neither of us spoke.
Finally, I asked if he was in a lot of pain. He raised his eyebrows and replied, Every damn day, but actually today is a good day.
The Simon and Garfunkel lyrics drifted through my mind. A good day ain’t got no rain. A bad day is when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been.
I did not get the sense that my friend had any regrets about his life. But I understood the concept of relativism. On a scale of Nirvana to Bosnia, most days hover somewhere in the middle. The gloom lurks behind me; the dawn tempts from its comfortable horizon. I don’t like to be considered strong or brave. Many others suffer so much worse burdens than I. But neither can I stomach the chirpy voice of patient techs asking me to rank my pain on a scale of zero to ten. Zero being pain-free, ten being the worst pain you’ve ever felt.
No, ma’am, I shan’t oblige. How about on a scale of run-over-by-a-car to my-mother’s-slow-painful-death-of-misdiagnosed-cancer?
Today’s a good day. I will take it. I won’t question the authorities who might rescind my reprieve. Under the radar suits me. I might even find the energy to smile.
It’s the twenty-fifth day of the forty-first month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.