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I’m not grateful for the actual pain, but I can admit, after 10 years, that I am grateful for its teachings.  Truly grateful.

Yesterday, my mood was much darker than the gloomy weather.

Pain has a way of coloring everything.

Only minutes into our daily hike through the woods, the stabbing pain was enough to make me consider turning back.

This is the kind of pain many people with disabilities or chronic conditions dread most — new pain.  It can be alarming and frightening, and then, the fear grows larger than the physical pain.

But we pushed on, because I don’t exercise only for cardio and strength-building.  My daily walks are mostly for my mind.

I admit — and this itself is painful — I dissolved far too easily into tears, when sharp pain shot through my leg like a jolt of electricity, just kept on firing.  (This is nerve pain, which I recognize; it was just more dramatic than usual.  The teachings of pain: It’s a signal that something is wrong and I had better deal with it.)

Live with pain long enough, physical or mental, and you’ll be astonished at how little it makes you cry.

The woods are so quiet and lovely, I took deep breaths and tried to still my mind, now racing with the old “What ifs…”.  I noticed little on the uphill hike, despite flourishing holly trees.

Forest Creek holly, Oregon (Hadi Dadashian photo)

We were distracted, thankfully, by birdsong, and the soft, trickling of the streams that bracket our favorite trail.  We always stop to marvel at how they mirror the seasons in the Pacific northwest.  The streams are gathering strength, as the rainy season nears.

Lovely chirping and trilling was interrupted by the shrieks of what seemed like a bird in distress.  We scanned the canopy of Douglas firs for the source.

Then, we heard a sound like a helicopter, “whuuuump, whuuump, whuuump.”

It was a huge hawk, flying so close we could see the underside of his powerful wings.  We were spellbound.

There was just enough light in the canopy opening for us to see the soft, red tinge to his caramel-colored wings and long tail, as he left the forest.

That, without drugs, pulled me “out of myself” long enough for the pain to disappear for awhile.