I have been surprised at how much pain I have walking my daily mile. Before starting this new goal I took about ten days off from my daily walk. When I started walking again after my short hiatus, the pain returned. Sometimes the pain is the vice-grip pain I had at the beginning of January; sometimes the pain is because my skin is being rubbed raw in unmentionable places. I’ve been quite discouraged.
And then I think of the people I’m walking for. I think of their pain. I think of their inability to walk and the complications and pain that causes. I remember the homemade prosthetic legs I saw at the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation office, legs made in Vietnam and Sierra Leone. One was made out of pieces of bamboo held together by strips of fabric. Another was made out of metal. When I held those prosthetics I teared up with sadness and compassion. I can’t believe people actually walk on something so ill-fitting. Those legs prove how desperate people are to walk. The least I can do, I think, is walk my mile, regardless of my pain.
But there’s something that doesn’t sit right with me about comparing myself to others and contrasting their pain with mine. What does that really accomplish but create a hierarchy of pain? Too many times I have heard people say to me, “I can’t complain about my pain to you, not after what you’ve been through.” Why not? Just because I had pain, and still do, doesn’t mean others can’t experience pain – and even whine about it. I think of pain as a multi-faceted crystal. Though the inside of the crystal doesn’t change, how we view the pain changes, depending on which facet we’re looking through. My pain doesn’t negate anyone else’s pain, nor does it in any way lessen their pain. Do does the pain of an amputee in Vietnam reduce my pain on my daily walk? No, it doesn’t.
What does happen, though, when I think of the amputees I’m walking for, is that I am encouraged and strengthened when I think of them. I know that somewhere, deep within their soul, they find a way to endure and continue on through their pain because, most likely, they simply have to. When I think of their ability to walk through their pain I feel like I’m tapping into the vibrational strength their courage sends out into the universe. I don’t feel a separation from them, which comparing and contrasting causes. Rather, I feel a connection with them, a bond. We share the experience of amputee pain. Our daily lives may be entirely different from each other, but we share the bond of our pain.
So when I walk, when I feel pain, when I think of the amputees I’m walking for, I’m calling on their strength, I’m connecting with their courage. And in that connection, my step becomes a little lighter.