Life is Pain, Highness
I like the movie Princess Bride with Cary Elwes and Robin Wright. I saw it in the theatre when it was first
released and have enjoyed it on video ever since. It’s full of clever witticisms and funny insights. Not to
mention the fantasy of kings and knights and pirates in a time of chivalry as well as a romantic side.
In the movie, a simple love story between a peasant girl and a farm boy, through effort, tragedy, and
circumstance the peasant girl becomes a princess, the unwillingly betrothed bride to be of the evil prince
and the farm boy becomes the dread pirate Roberts whose legend for ruthlessness always preceded him.
By way of many eventful twists and turns in the plot the two find themselves face to face on top of a hillside
arguing. The princess unaware that the pirate is actually the farm boy who she loves and believes that the
pirate has killed. She accuses him of all the pain he has caused to which he fiercely replies, “Life is pain,
highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.”
It is a brutal, sudden wake up call to everyone living in a fictional world of happiness. The truth almost
always is such. It is true. Life is painful. You cry when you enter it and hopefully, others cry when you
leave it. Or more accurately life is full of pain. Hopefully there are moments of pleasure mixed in there
from time to time but the bases of life is pain not pleasure. It might seem wrong or sad or depressing but it
Pain can be unbearable, in which case you crumble and go away. Pain can also be a go thing. I know,
you think I’m crazy. Pain is never good. Except of course when you accidentally reach out and grab the
handle to a hot pan. If you felt no pain you could do some serious damage to your hand before you
noticed the smell of your burning flesh and let go of the handle.
My wife has always delayed taking pain medications until she could identify to her satisfaction what was
causing the pain. At first I chided her for this but her explanation made sense and has been proven true.
Pain is there for a reason, it helps identify a problem. (Problems in the world) If you hide the problem
before you find its cause the problem will go uncorrected and could lead to serious injury. For example,
you have a pain in your side it hurts but you feel fine otherwise. You take medication the pain goes away
or more precisely it is hidden. It comes back later as the medication wares off. You take more medication
it goes away again you repeat this cycle increasing the medication dosage. Then one night you are
awakened from sleep by the pain but the medication does not help. The pain is so great you rush to the
emergency room where you discover that you appendix is abscessed and about to rupture. Pain was the
warning sign of a potential problem which of course you where trying to ignore. (ignoring problems bad).
Years ago I had a saying drilled into my head. Pain is weakness leaving the body. This is based upon
that fact that it takes effort to improve and that the expression of effort necessitates the burning of energy
and the application of friction both of which cause pain. The saying is most directly used when speaking
about a physical situation such as running or lifting weights. It hurts when you first start running. Your
lungs burn as you gasp for air, your muscle ache the morning after your first work out but as time goes on
and you continue with these actives your body builds muscle mass and endurance which compensates for
the pain. The pain that you initially experienced seems to have left you as your strength increases.
Similarly this can be applied to mental or emotional situations. When the first astronauts went to the moon
I have heard that they where awe struck by the aloneness of the situation. It was almost paralyzing. In
anticipation of this and countless other possibilities, they went through months of intense training on top of
the years of experience they already had. The more prepared you are for a situation the less painful it will
I grew up in a home where yelling was part of our family culture. My wife grew up in a home where they did
not yell. When we had our first yelling argument it left her wiped out. When it was over I was back to
normal as if nothing had happened. I had been conditioned and prepared for it and she had not. In any
situation you can develop what is known in physical conditioning as muscle memory. You can train
yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically to react and respond in a certain, predictable
way. In doing this you can lessen the likelihood of weak dangerous behavior or delay in action due to an
unfamiliar situation. Training and experience can give you the edge to survive and succeed.
All of this is true and applicable in life and particularly to work in a capitalistic society but remember not to
over reach with these concepts. I had a professor who gave me the gem of knowledge that all analogies
are false. He went on to explain that a story can be helpful to illustrate a particular point or aspect of
something, but that no situation or person is exactly the same therefore if you try to apply it as a blanket
over everything it just won’t fit. This of course brings me to the much over used saying, “That which does
not kill us only make us stronger.” No it doesn’t. It just weakens you so that the next thing that comes
along does kill you. This explains the concept of snapping or going postal.
To explain there is a clear difference between something that is tuff, difficult, and or painful and something
that truly has the potential to kill you. The first group which we will call work, can truly but not necessarily
lead to you becoming stronger the second group I’ll call tragedy or trauma which you are able for any
reason to survive leaves you weakened and venerable. You can work through your problems or you can
suffer and fail.
It is tuff out there and you will have to work to get through. Work results in pain. Pain comes in several
forms some of which are beneficial some of which are detrimental. Anyone who denies the necessary
existence of pain is trying to convince you of something that is not true. They are trying to sell you
something; an ideology, a belief, a program, a car, or a set of never dull steak knives. (Note I always
wanted to buy a set of Ginsu knives but we got two regular knife sets for our wedding over a decade ago
and they are still sharp and work fine)
The Lesson to Learn:
There are people out in the world who are trying to get you to believe, do, and think the way they do.
These people will do and say just about anything to get you to follow along. You can avoid these people
and the problems they will bring to your life by being a bit skeptical and weighting everything against the
obvious truth. If the group down in Guyana had paused and thought, “Hey, why do we all have to drink the
cool aide again?” They would have been better off.
The Brutal Truth:
Life is filled with pain. You have to deal with it. So don’t go believing some craziness to try to avoid it