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

is true.

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.

The Point:

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