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Thursday, April 07, 2016
That which gives pain, also dishes out pleasure [originally published 14 Feb]
This thought came to me during my session at the gym today. I've been trying a new fitness app I downloaded which plays fitness routines at set intervals for you to follow. After such a long fitness hiatus, however, I was feeling plenty of pain. The wall squats I held for 40 seconds made my thighs burn and so did the regular squats. The push-ups made my triceps and biceps scream in collective agony. At the end of 15 minutes, I had to seriously evaluate if I was going to have a heart attack right there in the gym.
Yet exercise, strangely, also gives me a kind of pleasure. A weird, sick, twisted one, to be sure, but exercise properly done makes me feel stronger instantly. (This is before the muscular aches begin) Regular exercise over time makes me better able to walk up stairs, carry heavy loads and prevents me from getting sick often. Thus, I may have suffered 15 minutes worth of pain, but it also gives me a longer-lasting kind of pleasure, as I am more fit to do all the other activities that I love.
We rightly associate pain with something gone wrong in our body. Migraines, chest pains and stomachaches, to name a few obvious ones, can be signs that something is wrong in the body and needs to be rectified. However, the pain I speak of is something different. This kind of pain can make you uncomfortable, frustrated or even cause murderous and destructive urges but at the end of it, transmutes into overwhelming pride.
One venture that serves as a good example of this are the times I tried sewing. Being plus-plus-sized and alarmed at the dwindling amount of XL clothing being sold in shops, I felt it prudent to learn some sewing techniques. (I believe that there is an ongoing conspiracy in which all clothing manufacturers have decided that only the skinny people have any money to buy their clothing) I went for a round of classes at Spotlight and I also experimented with some smaller projects on my own.
Once I started, I realised that sewing required a delicacy that I had very little of. It's a very good hobby for women with dainty little fingers, but with fat chops like mine, threading the needle was like playing darts with a very, very tiny dartboard and at times resulted in tears. Even when the needle was finally threaded, my troubles did not stop. Sometimes, the machine jammed. I don't know why, maybe I forgot to offer dead scraps of cloth to some deity of sewing. A few times, I threaded it wrongly so that after stitching one seam, one gentle yank was all it took to rip out the entire piece of thread from the fabric, thus wasting a whole afternoon's work.
(Here, contemplate smashing the sewing machine with my bare fist.)
So I can say that the process held a fair bit of pain for me, and that some of it I almost inflicted on myself willingly.
Yet, after all the pain was over, the amount of satisfaction and pride I held on seeing the finished product was immeasurable. That is a beauty unique to sewing, that after you are done, you can have an item of practical value.
I guess here's the thing: Pain is almost always part of the process in creating something grand. As long as I keep at doing it, learning from mistakes, learning better ways to do things, (use a threader to thread needles, for one) my reward will include not just the satisfaction of the finished product, but also immense gratification at the result that finally comes out of all my pain.