Standing with Pain



We take a class together. As we were walking out, he stopped me in order to complain. A litany. All the annoyances and things that other people just don't understand. My personality didn’t much like this – the initial impulse was to hop on my bike. Then the teacher in me flashed on all the things I could say that might help dig him out of the pattern of misery. I chose to say nothing. It wasn’t my place.

I stood. Got a little more quiet inside. All of a sudden, I saw that he hurt. The complaining was a way to say:

“I feel pain. I have these fears. And some dreams. I’m not sure what to do about them.” 

Despite his complaining, despite his fears, this person is showing up for this class. Something in him has a desire he’s trying to figure out and follow.

So many of us carry pain and fear. To keep trying despite these?

I honor that.

And it makes me wonder:

How often do we honor our own efforts? How often do we honor the efforts made in our communities, by committees or individuals?

Are we quick to run away, or to tear down, or offer a fix?

Do we allow ourselves the space and time to pause? To listen? To notice? To be?

What I’ve found is that when we drop beneath the initial impulses – and particularly drop beneath the clamoring of opinion thrown out by various personality parts – a fresh way of relating opens.

All of a sudden we notice so much more about the world, ourselves, and one another. In those times and spaces, so much more is possible than the smallest part of ego thought could be. We are brought closer to right action, existing in a relationship that is resonant with the situation at hand.

This week, what feels like your challenge? What will help you drop a level deeper toward silence, and notice something new?

What brings you from rejection and closer to a state of love?

How do you mirror community?

Where do you stand with your own fears, pain, or dreams?

11 Responses to “Standing with Pain”

  1. Mikka

    I can not express how much this was a perfect cap to a week of growth and learning. It was just right. Thank you so very much

  2. MaryAnn Jackman

    Thank you. This is a good one for me, too. I have a friend who is very much like the man in this story and I see her terrible pain but the psych nurse in me wants to present reality and the teacher in me wants to show her a different way — it’s futile — she can’t hear me through the barrier of her own pin and story-making, so all I can do is honor her keeping on going. Also with my beloved wife’s Parkinson’s cognitive disconnect moments… she keeps on going and I am slowly learning to sit on my urge to react and instead to honor her triumphs over it, and to love her through the glitches as well.

    • Thorn


      Isn’t it so useful to notice is how much these people cause us to reflect back on our own processes and tendencies?
      I wish you strength, joy, and ease as you navigate all of this.

  3. VH

    Thanks for this, Thorn. I have to remind myself of this throughout my day. I live with a severe anxiety disorder, and days when I really struggle I have to remember that the fact I show up to myself, work, and life despite this everyday is a success.

    • Thorn

      Thank you for sharing your story. It is important. Yes – every day is a success. Every day an opportunity.

  4. MaryAnn Jackman

    Thorn, thank you. You are so right — I constantly have to reflect back on my processes and tendencies and I am learning a lot. Definitely a growth experience. To navigate this, I have to learn to navigate myself in new ways and recognize what needs adjusting. Thank yu so much for the things you have taught me that make this easier to do!

  5. Kim McDonald

    I will read and meditate on this. And I will put it into practice.


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