When Pain is Pleasure

I was given senses as a human being, though I don’t believe there are only 5. I love to experience the world around me through them all.

If there is a place that is worth experiencing then I want to see a picture to spark a dream, watch a clip to be amazed, or read the adjectives that were deliberately chosen to paint it; but if possible, I would rather stand in the midst of it and let each of my senses grasp, by their unique fingers, its literal existence to create the most unforgettable memory.

If possible, I would rather stand in the midst of it and let each of my senses grasp, by their unique fingers, its literal existence to create the most unforgettable memory.

A few nights ago I wanted to get away. Do you know the feeling? I was tired of the daily grind, the same patterns at my job, the same smells of the couch and carpet and the blank stare of the white walls (I would rather have trees with history in their wrinkles of bark).

My car was not running and I only had a little money. I borrowed a green bike without asking that had been leaning against a stairwell for far too long and seemed to be begging me to take it along.

Before I left, I thought I should probably check the weather. It said there would be severe thunder storms for the bulk of the evening. I decided to rely on the oftentimes miscalculating of the weather man rather than his occasional legitimate predictions. Who can really tell the future?

I stopped at the store to get a sweet potato, some corn and seasonings for the meat I brought. I find a delicious meal is near effortless with some hearty foods and tin foil when I am sitting in front of hot coals.

30 minutes later I was on a road that seemed to go on forever. Wind had picked up gradually until I had forgotten what a peaceful stroll was like. Heavy rain was hundreds of water-bullets continually being shot directly at me. My hair was blown straight back. Though I exerted a lot of strength, my bike was forced to a halt a time or two by the power of the storm telling me to return. I almost listened, until I thought about where I would be returning to: a sanctuary that didn’t entertain any of my senses. I slowly became more aware of each of the rain drops, the wind, the cold spitting of an angry sky that had been hot long enough that day.

Yes, it was uncomfortable by many definitions, but I began to smile when I compared pain to nothing and reasoned I would rather feel pain. Pain is only pain when its opposition is better. To me, this pain became pleasure.

Little did I know, the wolves were not finished howling.

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I saw a church-house in the distance that seemed so close. With the defiance of the storm, it took me an unreasonably long time to arrive. I stood underneath a picnic area that was a small shelter and waited for the rain to stop.

After about 30 minutes, I was finally almost to the campsite pushing against a slight wind and rain that let up only enough to remain a constant annoyance. I looked to my right and saw the complete arc of a rainbow. I smiled again as I realized that in order to see that heavenly path of all colors in the sky, I must first endure the storm.

I turned onto the next road to see a field of cows casually chewing grass. When I spent a couple years in the Philippines a few years back, I learned to imitate the cows so well that they would immediately look up at me and answer. I wanted to see if American cows spoke the same language. I made the call and sure enough every single cow looked up from the ground at me. I laughed at the immediate response but mostly at the dumbfounded look on their faces. After I spoke a few times, they became bored and began ripping weeds out of the ground again. I wanted their attention again so I decided I would try another sound I had practiced.

When I was twelve we lived beside a field of sheep and I tried to imitate them until they would notice me. The old man who lived there must have noticed my interest in his animals. One day when I was walking past his house, he invited me in. Looking back I probably shouldn’t have gone into a man’s house I didn’t know, but at the time I had no reservations. After all, is there such thing as an evil sheep herder? He took me into a room in the back of the house and I saw his wife siting down feeding a bottle to a tiny lamb. He asked me if I wanted to feed it. I said yes of course!

I let out a loud sheep sound towards the cows. Their response startled me. All at once acres full of at least 50 cows were all running towards me. There was a barbed wire fence and an irrigation canal between us so I decided to stand my ground. I took a picture and then realized it was almost time for sundown.

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The all-to-common friend called fear inched out of its shell in my spine and bled adrenaline into my veins as I realized I hadn’t brought anything to start a fire and was planning on finding wood—wood that was now drenched.

The gravel underneath my tires turned from a continual growl to a raspy hiccup as I slowed to a stop. As i was contemplating my situation, I smiled at fate. A pile of wooden pallets was right beside my campsite as if someone had seen my drenched self coming. I threw the bottom ones in the fire pit first because they had stayed almost fully dry (though they didn’t quite fit in the fire pit).

Irony forcefully tickled my stomach and I laughed. I was cold and wet and in pain not long ago. Now I was standing alone in front of a bonfire twice my height; yet, I had brought no provisions for it.

When the reflections of the dancing fire ceased, so did the excitement subside that seemed to pry its wild dance into my eyes—eyes that succumb to recording everything the eyelids do not cover.

I ate the smokey-sweet vegetables and meat that were protected by foil in the coals. There seems to be a universal law which increases the tastefulness of food by the amount of physical labor we exert before eating it.

I looked up at the stars while laying on a thin pad I had laid beside the dead fire and watched the clouds slowly go away. I only knew this was happening by the evidence that, piece by piece, patches of the sky were revealed. Finally, I could make out many constellations. I was joyful to see the cloudy smear that is the milky way.

Sleep was gently sedating me when suddenly I heard a howl. One voice turned into a chorus and it sounded like they were not far. The fear of a pack of wolves or coyotes made me aware of my vulnerable situation. I was lying alone on the ground with no one near. I put my machete beside me though I told myself to stop fearing, reasoning that it would be much more beneficial to relax and go to sleep than to stay up and panic about a death that was highly unlikely.

Two hours later I awoke shivering. It had gotten very cold and I had nothing else to warm myself unless I were to burn the rest of the wood I was saving for morning. I decided to pack up and go home, but when I stood up, I realized that it was cold yet bearable and for some reason I hated the idea of quitting that night. I had gone through so much to be part of a night in the woods and if that meant feeling the cold breath that was an inevitable characteristic of a desert’s night, then I would need to endure it in order to make the experience complete.

I woke up every hour from the cold until, once more, irony forcefully tickled my stomach as I watched the sun rise beside a fire that was too hot.

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