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  • Reverend James Squire

No Pain, No Gain!

One of my guiding principles is that “Everyone is paying a price. What’s yours? Is it worth it?” and “Everything in life cuts both ways,” what can help you, can hurt you as well. Every experience has an upside and a downside. I would indicate this to my ethics students and then raise a question such as, “What could possibly be a downside to your having a terrific experience here at EA?” After a discussion, someone would say, “Well, your college experience may not live up to that which we had here.” Right!

People of a certain age namely me as well as people of any age have grown up with that adage pasted on signs over most fitness facilities that “no pain, no gain.”

I am still running at an age when most people aren’t, but have been recently sidelined with a temporary running injury. It has stopped me in my tracks. It seems that I am always in some form of rehab for keeping in shape. The result is that I have a good injection fraction in the heart and hard bones. The downside is many injuries to the body from head to toe. I have gotten use to running through pain. According to Vicki, I don’t respond to pain the way some others do. She always makes the point of telling any doctor I am seeing that, “If he is in pain, it means he really, really is in pain.”

I am blessed to have great orthopedic doctors and physical therapists who know me well so they will give me half the reps of exercises because they know I will do twice the amount. Recently when one of the two was wondering why something he was doing wasn’t causing enough pain for him to stop, he asked, “Don’t you feel that?” I said, “Yes, but keep going. It isn’t a problem.” In addition, I said, “I have an interesting relationship with pain!” He has been with me for years. He doubled over with uncontrollable laughter and commented “that should be the title of your next book.”

We often see in others what we can’t see in ourselves. I had a great friend who was a ninety years old trustee of our school who owned the largest flashlight factory in our country. He was still going into the office as CEO even in his nineties.

He tripped and fell after a luncheon and broke his femur and had to enter a rehab facility. This gentleman gave new meaning to the words high powered and highly motivated. I called him to see how he was doing at the rehab facility and asked how he was spending his days. He said, “I get up at 6 and do a set of my rehab exercises on my own and then go do the same ones in rehab at 8 with the therapist.” When I asked him why he did that as that is not the protocol, he responded, “I thought that would help me get better twice as fast!” I told him that is not the way it works! That is crazy. When I got off the phone, I self-reflected, “He’s just like me!”

What I have learned the hard way with my long serving patient physical therapists is that there is good pain that produces strength and is normal and there is bad pain that can reinjure the parts of your body by overdoing or overuse of a muscle because it weakens it.

This is true in life as well. The goal at the end of any exercise or purpose in life determines if it is good or bad pain? Certainly, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney have experienced a lot of good psychological pain to stay true to their loyalty to the Constitution. Donald Trump has created so much bad pain by undermining our government, ignoring the warning signs of Covid, and being a bad neighbor to our allies around the world that he weakened the muscle used by overdoing his concern for self and not for nation. The Big Lie has been overdone and weakened the fabric of our country.

Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney understand how the body politic should work. They know the difference between good and bad pain. They know that they are experiencing good pain because of the path that they have taken to honor the good, the right, and what the Constitution and their moral compass calls them to do and to be.

I have an interesting relationship with pain. That may qualify as a good title for a book if it highlights that what is true in the world of physical therapy should be true in every day life. You can look through the lens of good and bad pain to categorize our political life for with good pain, you get good gains for a nation just as it strengthens our muscles and doesn’t weaken them.

Trust me, you can teach an old dog new tricks. I am trying to learn that lesson!

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