On remembering pain


A while back I had a brush with death. I think I probably did; it involved some deadly poisons in safe doses, but my body is weird and reacts to things differently, very often.

Anyway, I got through it. Still here, alive and…well, alive, anyway. My experience with the poisons and the almost-dying led to a conversation with my mom about pain.

It always hurts less in memory.

It bloody well has to, or humanity would have gone extinct long ago.

Last night, I stubbed my toe. For the next ten minutes I rolled on the ground, crying. I swore it was the worst pain I’d ever experienced. (Side note, my couch is an asshole.)

Then, about fifteen minutes pass and all I have is a faint memory of the pain. It still aches, but almost pleasantly — of course it’s pleasant in comparison to what I’ve just been through.

If I actually remembered what that pain was like — if I could, and I can’t, it’s gone already, I just know that it hurt but I can’t recall the actual feeling, as I can with other senses — if I could recall that sense with that same clarity, I daresay I’d never leave my bed again.

And the same for the rest of us hairless apes, I’m sure. If our forebears could recall the pain of a stubbed toe with clarity, do you think they’d leave their homes to hunt mastodon?

Fuck no.

Clarity can be a blessing. But in this area, it’s quite obvious the blessing is in the fuzziness of the details.