Pain is not so bad, is it?

A week and a half ago, I was at the cross country meet at Indian Springs. I was there when the girls’ winner crossed the finish line, nearly a minute faster than everyone else. And she crossed it smiling. Everyone else looked like they were going to die.

Looking like you are going to die is the natural reaction to running three miles up hill in the cold. So what’s the deal with that weirdo, smiling winner?

There’s always someone out there who makes the painful look easy. A neighbor we had right after my wife gave birth to our first child also had her first baby around the same time. She said the whole experience was rather pleasant, and she could do the same thing eight or nine times. Fortunately, her husband was not there, and there was no embarrassing disagreements in our house.

I don’t know if these people are genuinely painless or if they just want to make the rest of us look bad. Maybe I could’ve been that way if I had eaten the Brussels sprouts my mom gave me as a child. For some odd reason, my mom loves Brussels sprouts. I’m not sure who decided they were edible.

But had I eaten them instead of gagging on them, maybe, just maybe, pain would not be quite so bad. Maybe I could have dealt better with painful things, like sit-ups or slow jogs. Maybe I could’ve been a contender. Maybe I could’ve been president. No, wait, I could not deal with quite that much pain, no matter how many Brussels sprouts I ate.

In a cross country race, pain is the real opponent. Yes, there are other runners, but it’s the pain that keeps us from running as fast as we would like. That, and our body falling apart eventually. If it wasn’t for the pain, I could’ve gone to the Olympics.

Just think of all the things we could do without pain. Climbing Mt. Everest would be no problem; we could do it barefoot. And public speaking might become a possibility for everybody. And opera might be enjoyable.

People might pay to have root canals. Oh, wait. I’ve done that several times already.

It doesn’t matter how much we avoid it though, the pain always catches up to all of us. Cross country might be a good preparation for the rest of our lives, if only to teach how to make the pain a little more bearable. Maybe if I had ran cross country, I could’ve handled the Brussels sprouts.



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