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Pain and Creativity - Can they co-exist?
By Bruce McLeland
I woke up early in the morning. As I made my way to the bathroom, I was overcome with pain in the right side of my neck and up my head on that side. I couldn't see where I was going and I called out to God, "Please take away this pain." Later the pain subsided, allowing me to function.
There has been a lot written about pain and creativity as if these two must go together. You can name many artists who were in physical and mental pain but were creative in art, poetry, music and writing.
I am talking about a person in serious pain, who still wants to be creative. Last week I was diagnosed with DJD, degenerative joint disease. One of the symptoms of this is Stenosis, a narrowing of some part of the spine putting pressure on the spinal cord. Another symptom is bulging, the disks squeeze out like a balloon between two pieces of bone. These both cause the nerves to be squeezed. For months I have had a severe pain on the right side of my head. At night this is unbearable but tends to calm down some in the daytime.
I have noticed that this can affect my attitude. It can also affect my creativity. It is easier to just sit, watch TV or read a book. It is tough to write anyway but how can I do it when I am in pain? Here are some ways I have found.
Instead of sitting at the computer for hours plugging away on that article or book, I take a break every hour to walk around or get a drink or talk to my wife. I sometimes take my dog, Ginger for a walk.
I notice that as I get into writing, I forget about the pain.
I can write about how I feel about the pain. For example: I hate the idea of having this non-operative neck problem and the pain it causes. I also hate the thought of months of therapy to strengthen the muscles and hopefully they will be less painful. I had epidural shots in my neck and ended up in the hospital with blood clots in my leg and both lungs. Now, I can moan and complain or I can make some creative sense of it to help myself and others. Praise God, as it turned out, I could have surgery and that took care of the pain.
I can use my research skills to find out how others deal with this type of pain and we can be an encouragement to each other.
I can continue to have a positive attitude and help others to cope with their pain and problems.
Pain and creativity can exist and thrive together. When creativity is being expressed, pain is pushed to the background. I only think about the pain when I let myself think about it or if my mind is idle. Right now I am thinking about the pain because I am writing about it. Just before this, I wrote two articles, Should "Christians vote A Parable" and "The Big Cat" and while I was writing those I had no pain. It was temporarily blocked out.
Praise God. One of the most creative acts in history was taking place while Christ was in the painful throes of his death on the cross. Should I complain? I don't think so.
Since I wrote this piece I had upper spine surgery and am now free from the pain I have had since last May. Nine months of pain pills are over. I now view pain in a different way. On a scale of 1-10 I rarely go over a 3 or 4 because in comparison to the 10+ I did have little pains are nothing.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I am a former Aircraft mechanic, Missionary, Realtor and now a Creative Writer. I would appreciate a critique of this article.
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