Pain is really bad. I don’t like it at all. In fact, a lot of my life has been spent avoiding situations which might be likely to cause pain to me, hence my decision to give up a potentially lucrative career in boxing. However, some types of pain bug me more than others. Pain from external sources I can just about accept. If you’ve been hit in the most sensitive area by a football, for instance, or if it’s the morning after a spree, then you can pretty much expect pain. What really gets me is the pain that just appears from nowhere, for no reason. Like when you wake in the middle of the night with a stabbing pain in the leg. All you’ve been doing is just lying there, almost perfectly still. What could you have possibly done to your leg? Or when you get a steadily growing pain in your mouth, that won’t go away, but just sits there at the back of your brain.
It’s like your body is mocking you. Saying ‘no matter what you do, how careful you are, you can’t escape the pain. It also makes you aware of how many things can just go wrong in your body, your only link to the world. Like sailing a deep ocean in a rickety old boat, you see how easy it is for the whole thing to start taking in water, or just to tip over. And, we’ve really evolved to a level where pain is almost obsolete. Sure, we need to know when something is bust in our body, but does it really need to be so insistent. Couldn’t we just have a little message appear on our hands saying ‘you’ve just trodden on a nail.’ When you think about it, when you’re experiencing pain, it’s likely to be a situation where you need your utmost concentration. It’s no good when you’re running away from a tiger to be continually reminded that, yes, he has just bitten your hand off. And there are even people who seek out pain to aid their sexual practises. Don’t they realise that getting hurt hurts? Weirdos.
So, pain, unpleasant, existentially unsettling and redundant. I suppose I could just take a pain killer, but that seems so girly.
My brother raises an interesting question about whether feelings such as pain, and by extension other mental states such as emotions, desires and beliefs, are best understood in terms of their functional roles or their subjective phenomenological tonality.
No, hang on, what am I talking about, that’s not fucking interesting at all.