(3.7 minute read)
I don’t have the best genes one could wish to have, and a consequence of that is chronic back pain. Shortly before college, in fact, it was so severe that some days my 18-year-old self couldn’t even get out of bed. I remember laying there, quite frequently, in misery, thinking about all the things I wanted to do, and wondering if I’d ever be able to do them. I wondered if this was just my life from now on, and if it was, then what? I still had how many years of life left? And I was going to spend it in pain, day-dreaming about going on adventures instead of actually adventuring? I thought not.
After a few more consultations with various doctors, and the passing of time, I was at least able to move again. I was in pain, but I was in pain regardless of whether I was moving; what was the difference between suffering while lying in bed, and suffering while scaling a mountain? Humility, mostly. And, of course, the view.
I realized I could choose to pity myself, or focus on things outside of myself. I could stay in my room, or stay in a tent. I could avoid answering questions about why I suddenly went from being athletic to being “crippled,” or I could repeat the explanation (for the 62nd time) and follow it up with another plea for assistance… even though I didn’t want to. I had to accept a loss of independence, asking for people’s help, but I would be fooling myself if I thought I kept any independence by caging myself inside thick walls. The only difference was whether I’m weak alone, or weak in front of people I wished would look up to me–depend on me.
Humility won’t kill you, though. Humility is one of those virtues that’s hardest for me to seek of my own volition… so my pain, perhaps, is a blessing in disguise. At any rate, I’ll take some mortification over the alternative, as long as I’m able. Life is so very short, and I don’t want to look back on it wondering “what if?”