The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


This may not make sense to anyone but me.

It's something I have to do. Only a few Writers have ever managed to put It down and walk away while still among the living. I ain't one, yet anyway. Either a Writer or one capable of putting It down. G'head and pick which best fits. Regardless, I have to do this.

I ain't looking for sympathy (albeit it is appreciated), empathy (likewise) or other expressions (and thank you if you do). I'm just putting down on electronic paper a thought, a blog, a column, a missive that's been running through my grey matter for the past few weeks.


It changes people. The pancreatic cancer that eventually killed my Dad changed him and not for the better. I'm watching pain change my Mom. Dad's way is not her way. Not saying Mom is changing for the better, but she is changing. How, you ask? I don't feel the need to explain that here. Dad changed. She's changing. Nuf said, s'far as I'm concerned.

Past few weeks, the pain in my life started affecting me. Ah poot. Correction. The pain in my life has affected me for about as long as I've been able to react to it. You too. We cannot remember our earliest days. But pain was there as a teacher. We learned to avoid things that caused pain.

Some of us have also learned that certain pains are stimulating. We chase that sensation. Pepperheads know of what I write. A few years ago I sat down with Lori at Buffalo Wings and had mango-habanero coated chicken chunks. I ate and actually applauded there in the restaurant. In short, I was wired on natural endorphins, stoned of my own making. Others pursue different pains for different reasons.

Pain, for whatever reason.

Yesterday, I ordered a half plastic pipe with ropes attached to help me put on socks. I cannot put on socks when I get up in the morning. Spend a while moving around, stretching joints and muscles, then I can. But first thing, nope. The pain in my hips and legs is too great to overcome first thing for something as mundane as socks. That's one way this has changed me.

As the day goes on and I move, the pain lessens. I can move more freely. I can put on my own socks. Arthritis is insidious that way. It hurts to move, but moving makes the pain less.

I have back pains. Shoulder pains. Knee pains, Occasionally ankle pains, but those pass quickly. Some days my hips hurt too.

I ain't complaining, for reasons I shall explain in a moment and I am complaining because this stuff hurts. It affects how I can do things. It stops me from doing stuff and forces me to do other stuff. I do not like it. Ain't much I can do except move until the joints stop hurting. CBD does help, but only to a point. I'm certain pain pills would help too, but that's a road I'm not yet willing to travel.

As I just said I ain't complaining (and yet I am too). I am not complaining because each twinge, each ache, each pop in the joint is a trophy.

I have not lost my mind ... probably.

I say these are trophies. Some are the much-maligned participation trophies. Some are winner, championship trophies.

Regardless, each pain is a signal honor. It says I was there, did that and came out the other side. It that respect it is a participation trophy.

In another way, it is a trophy showing actual accomplishment. I was there. I did things. I was out and moving. I got up and invested myself.

I lived.

These pains I have, they are reminders of the things I did. I did things others may dream of. I did things other people cringe to think about. I did things that hurt then, took a few decades off and now hurt again. I hiked mountains. I swam in water that has flesh-eating bacteria in it. I swam next to sharks, stingrays and was attacked by jellyfish. I've hunted across this great nation and fed I don't know how many people with the meat I brought back. I farmed, feeding thousands of people and farmed to provide lumber and paper. I've dug in archeological sites. I've saved, literally saved, the lives of at least two people. I've preached funerals and weddings. I've carried world-class weightlifters because they got bear-caught and I've been bear-caught. I've been bitten by snakes. I've outrun sheriff's department deputies and been caught by them. I've been shot, three times.

Lots and lots more. Some of which I'm trying to get into a book. Maybe I'll finish it.

In short, I experienced.

I lived.

These pains I carry, they are reminders that I got up and lived. I went out and tested myself. Pain is a reminder that I lived and am still alive.
I look at other people my age and older and I envy them when they do not have pains. I envy their lack of arthritis. I hope they never get it.

Then, I wonder if they lived. Did they get out of their comfort zone and step into a world that promises and delivers a life that can't be described in words? Will they some day slide quietly into the next realm, whatever that may be? Or will they, like me, go crashing through that barrier shouting "WHAT A RIDE!"

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