Pain and Delusion
On June 14th 2019, I woke up with an excruciating and un-explainable pain at the base of my spine.
I went to work and tried to be a warrior. I’ve built my self-worth on a Spartan work ethic, and by noon the pain was making me nauseous and I went home early like a Greek playwright pretending to be a Spartan legionnaire.
For the next 8 hours, I snailed between the fetal position on my couch to wincing in pain as I glooped into the bathroom. Back and forth, I glopped until I dosed myself to sleep with too much CBD and melatonin.
But before I passed out, as I showered, I confronted that I truly had no idea what could have caused this physiologically, so I entertained the idea that this was psychosomatic — that this pain was, on some level, my psyche attempting to communicate something to me.
There Are (At Least) Two Yous, in You
There is fascinating research on split-brain patients (people who have their corpus colosseum severed to reduce the intensity of seizures), that shows there seems to be two independent consciousnesses in the brains of these people. The left hemisphere has access to speech, and the right hemisphere does not have access to language, but uses the body to communicate.
There is also a long history in psychotherapy and related fields of patients, students, teachers, and doctors alike experiencing physical aliments that spontaneously relieve themselves once a significant psychological memory is ‘digested.’
My tentative hypothesis is that many somatic ‘illness’ or ‘pain’ is a mechanism the Right Brain uses to communicate to the Left Brain; and that understanding then taking appropriate action in honor of the Right Brain, can ‘cure’ the somatic response (or at least significantly reduce pain).
With this in mind, I asked myself “What could this possibly be telling me?”
Without conscious control, I felt myself ‘realize’ I should be writing an article each week for my website. This is something I’ve known I’ve wanted to have the habit of doing for years, and I’ve flirted with the idea, but there is something about pain that really clears the mind of the extraneous excuses.
I went to bed that night committed to begin this practice, and I woke up without back pain.
Less than 18 hours ago my back pain was so bad I felt sick, and now, my back pain was gone.
I do not know if the pain is gone because of my psychological commitment. It may have subsided without my showering weirdness; but the agreement has been made, and I am going to honor it.
Why Am I Writing?
Exploring why I do something helps me commit to it, so this first post is going to be a post about why I am committing to writing a post every week.
1) A practice to hone my truth
My highest commitment to myself is to speak and act my truth with love. Because humans are finite beings, my ‘truth’ is not a claim at objective truth. However, I do think each of us has the subjective experience of what ‘our truth’ is in any moment. Because we are naive, immature, and growing, our personal truth is often naive, immature, and in need of growing — and we hide it. We don’t admit to ourselves how we feel, we don’t tell our friends how their actions affected us, we don’t tell our partners what we want or need, and we tend to shrink away from the goals our soul begs us to strive for.
I seek to the best of my ability to speak and act my truth in love, but I am human, and I feel myself stretch, shrink, and bend the truth in little ways when I’m swept up in spoken conversation with others. I tend to catch myself exaggerating numbers, or omitting little details I’d rather not explain.
I don’t like this.
A beautiful gift of writing is that I can explore what I think and feel without that urge of ‘The Other’ inviting a small part of me to step outside the light of my truth. So this is one of the functions writing these posts will serve and hone.
It is also the core reason I recommend journaling to anyone who wants to connect to themselves more deeply.
2) A practice to hone my use of language.
The words we choose, and how we use them matter.
Just look at that previous sentence — choose, matter; our language is ‘littered’ with metaphors, and the metaphors we use effect the way we perceive reality.
I’m fascinated by the way we use language and how language creates our reality. When I’m talking on the podcast or with friends, I tend to not catch the subtleties in metaphors or phrases, but when I read, and when I write, I slow down enough to begin to notice these. I can feel that exercising this discernment of language will help me help people psychologically.
I’m also in love with exploring the etymology of words. So many of the words that fall off our tongue can be traced back to much older civilizations and they reveal the psyche of the generations our world is built on.
For example, psyche is Latin for breath. For thousands of years there has been an intimate link between the breath and consciousness.
You could imagine our ancient ancestors looking into the eyes of their grandmother. She is dying. They watch her breath slow, her diaphragm’s expansion becomes more and more subtle, until, at last, she does not draw another breath. Instantly, it is as if the color of her skin darkens. The room itself darkens. Something that was once there, something alive, is now gone. It seems as if it left with the breath.
When we explore etymology, it is like we are peering into the mind of people from the past. I love doing it, and writing each week will give me a chance to share this.
3) A practice to hone my ability to write meaningful content regularly
I plan to write books. To do this, I know I need to cultivate the habit of writing every day. I’ve been good at journaling consistently, but that is a fundamentally different kind of writing than the kind of writing that will be shared with others. In the last few months I’ve found myself drawn to writing an Instagram post once a week, but to be frank, I am not putting a lot of effort into those, and I know, if I am to create the quality of books I know I am capable of creating, I will need to put more effort and time into my writing practice.
Here is where I will do this.
4) A place to play and learn
One of my favorite benefits I observe from doing the podcast is I tend to synthesize new ideas in conversation. It is one of the reasons why I want to podcast the rest of my life. I see it as an amazing tool to challenge my ideas, encounter new ideas and as a place to synthesize them. However, something I notice about writing is that my ability to recall and deliver information I’ve written is near photographic.
If I write something, (at least for the next few weeks before the next idea seizes me like King Kong swiping up a beauty in a red dress), I find I’m able to recall and verbalize almost the entire post. Writing engrains the known where podcasting synthesizes the unknown.
Podcasting and Writing are my two primary tools I use to play and learn.
The “If So, Then What” Experiment
I choose to entertain the idea that my chanced back pain was an attempt for my body to talk to me.
My favorite metaphysical framework is Pragmatism. Essentially, I don’t believe humans have evolved to be capable of knowing objective truth in the way many philosophies and natural sciences seek. The best we can do is pick ideas and deploy them in our world and observe which ideas ‘work’ and which ideas don’t. The ones that ‘work',’ we keep using, and the ones that don’t, we should set aside.
Sidenote: I will write an in-depth post on pragmatism at some point, but whether or not an idea ‘works’ depends on what the individual deploying the idea wants. It gets interesting and tricky quickly.
My favorite phrase that encapsulates my pragmatic framework is, “If so, then what?”
If I or one of my friends starts linguistically masturbating to some esoteric or ‘deep’ thought, we check each other by asking '“Okay…If so, then what?”
This forces us to step beyond the poetic musings, and asks us to make some claim on how this idea should influence the way we behave or live.
For me, it is a powerful tool that keeps me from getting lost in my own thoughts.
So when I was in the shower wondering what the fuck was going on with my back, and I began to entertained that it was psychosomatic, I asked myself, “If So, Then What?”
My answer was, ‘Write a post every week.’
This is me testing the pragmatism of this idea.
It feels right to be writing.
This idea is working.
If You Enjoyed This
The goal is to grow the website and podcast to a point that I can pay my bills and eventually raise a family on it. We’re in the pupil stage of this thang, and there are a few things you can do to help this manifest.
Share this with someone you think it could help.
Do one thing today that your future self would be proud you did.
I aim to continue to be of service to all of you, and sincerely, thank you for your time and attention.