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The craving is in the contrast

By September 4, 2009How To, Writing

pleasure and painYou know how I torture myself on a regular basis? While talking to my outrageously simpatico friends, Sarah and Chris, last night, I realized that there’s a perfectly delicious reason for this. At one point, Sarah said, “Maybe the whole point of pain is that it gives us something to relieve, to contrast against, so that we can feel the pleasure.” Brilliant. BRILLIANT.

Of course. We can’t feel good unless we feel bad. We can’t be happy unless we know what sad is. We don’t experience light without dark. We need the contrast. And so, I create pain and suffering so that I can feel good.

You know that feeling after the headache? When all of a sudden your head is clear, open, blissful? If your head doesn’t hurt for days on end, you don’t really notice it, right? You take it for granted, you aren’t conscious of it. Without the pain of the headache as a reference, your head not hurting is just your head.

And every once in a while, you get something really good. I mean really good. But you won’t notice it  – or at least just how good it is – if you didn’t have some bad stuff before it. $500 if you’re broke and living on the street is astoundingly better than $500 if you’re a millionaire, isn’t it.

I believe that my dear old dad would catalog this phenomenon within his beloved reversal theory – where, well, things happen in the reverse – they diverge in their selves – existence to function, cause to reaction. Like how cutting your hair makes it grow faster. Or when you stop eating fat to lose weight, and your metabolism slows so far down without the ‘grease’, that you actually gain weight and get fat. Or how cancer cells are infinitesimally small, yet cancer is one of the biggest killers of our time, creating mass destruction in a body, a family, a world. Or how pain makes pleasure insanely sweeter. The Reversal Theory.

I create pain, to feel the joy of pleasure. Hmmm…when this book is done, my pleasure ought to be stratospheric. Just like life is – about every other Thursday, a high spot rising headily against the torture.

Image credit: Bill Gracey on the road

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