When you become a citizen of the Empire of Pain there is seemingly no passport that will pave your way out of the country; once a citizen, always a citizen.
Ever had that headache that starts just behind your left ear as a dot of intense pain? Sure you have. It pulsates like a glowing ember arcing iron bands of pain tunneling across your head just under your scalp.
Aspirin? Nope, no help. Extra Strength Excedrin? Useless. Quiet dark room? Hopeless. Cold compresses? Pointless. Old Vicodin tabs left over from last summer’s root canal? Not even two of them. No, nothing works. That pulsing iron band encircling your head can’t be dented. Can’t be escaped.
Now imagine having that kind of pain in your neck. Or, maybe, your lower spine and in your left knee all at once. Imagine also that you have some form of this pain every day of your life. Sometime it waxes, at other times it wanes. But it’s always, always there.
Maybe this agony has been with you so long that you’ve found a doctor who will treat you with the strongest pain killers around. And imagine that it is an opioid medicine that you take following your doctor’s orders.
But the pain is still there. Oh, it’s lessened from harrowing to simply awful, but there it is nonetheless. It’s inescapable.
But take heart. There are ways to temporarily escape the Empire. One of the best escape routes? Beauty. That’s right, beauty. And the really wonderful thing is that even in the Empire of Pain, beauty is everywhere just waiting to be discovered.
Here’s a nice example. In summer weather, go sit on your porch or a chair in the back yard. Settle into your seat acknowledging where your body hurts while slowing down your breathing. Let your muscles relax from your head to your toes. Sit still and close your eyes
Do you hear the first few notes of a cardinal’s song? The rhythmic call of a red winged black bird. Or if you’re on the West Coast, listen to the muted few notes of mating doves. Listen closely. Let the song flow into your ears; into your body and settle in your heart. Imagine that song emanates from deep in your heart. Let the beauty of the notes caress you, warm you. Listen. Closely. Really hear the purity of nature’s song.
Sit there for about ten minutes, or as long as you can and notice how the song has made your pain recede a bit into the background as you let that cardinal’s song transport you for a while from the Empire of pain. Know that you can temporarily escape the Empire several times a day.
Through the practice of taking in beauty we can defeat for a time the evil of pain. We can outwit it.
Beauty is our pathway out. Follow it with practiced ease.