Pain and Pleasure

Pain and Pleasure are opposite sides of a coin we call a day. Yesterday I had a full day, filled with both. I started off waking up at 4:45am to start my Saturday long run of 9 miles. Our group started interval running at 6am, and being a typical muggy, hot day in South Florida, it was not enjoyable. Basically, we were just trying to survive. After mile 6 I felt my shoes and toes completely wet, my energy levels depleted, and my mind begging me to stop. I managed to crawl to the finish line, and although I felt somewhat proud that I finished, the pain did not go away immediately. I was achy, thirsty and tired, and yes, complaining a bit. Why do I do this to myself, I thought. “Welcome to torture” I semi jokingly told a fellow runner when seeing her. LOL

My only consolation was that I had booked a massage later that day. That’s where pleasure comes in. For over a decade my framily (friends and family) have conducted a yearly tradition of attending a Spa Day. For some reason, I thought spas and massages were just not for me. Call me old fashioned, but to me they conjured images of a softness that did not need to be part of my life. So, I would usually just politely decline and move on with stuff that was needed. Until one year, out of curiosity, I agreed to partake. There are different types of massages, I was told, and I could pick and choose. So I went once and have attended for the past 5 years. Always finding a good excuse, though. This year’s reason was that it would be prudent to have an athletic massage post run.

What really was going on was that I was not in touch with my body. Or to put it more honestly, I was not in touch with my senses. I somehow was avoiding “feeling”. To feel means to pull back the curtain and reveal why something feels pleasurable or not. And then worse, to express out loud that “Yes, I like this” or “no, I don’t like this”. I am not sure if this is a personal issue or if most men have trouble expressing how an event or sensation makes them feel. I know in my case I have never been comfortable expressing how I feel, emotionally or otherwise. I find it much easier to express what feels painful instead of pleasurable. So going to massages has been slightly uncomfortable and then I can dismiss it until the next year, when Spa Day comes back.

Yesterday I saw the pavement ahead as it momentarily disappeared by torrents of sweat. Yet, later in the day, I was standing in a dimly lit room ready to be pampered. Within a few hours I smelled the body odors from my running mates and me, and then aromas of mint, eucalyptus and who knows what else. I tasted the salt from my own sweat, as well as the acidity of lemon water given to me after the massage. The piano keys of a soft melody almost lulled me to asleep on the massage table, yet earlier in the day I was listening to my phone app barking orders to keep pounding away. I sensed my big toes full of water and rubbing against my sneakers, while that same skin would later be covered in soft and warm oils.

I now believe that I don’t need good reasons to receive massages. That pampering is not a dirty word. That all feeling is healthy. It is not good or bad, it just is. Because after a painful tough run, my body will learn how to process that, and it will be ready next time it faces it. It won’t be so bad anymore. It will make me resilient. Same with pleasure. Next time I feel an enjoyable experience, I will be able to sense it and express it in a healthy way. I will be in the moment, enjoying it. My body will know how to experience it, and even learn to naturally enhance pleasure. I realized pain and pleasure are both my companions on my life journey. And I want to be acquainted with them since I hope it’s a long trip.

Photo by Izzie Renee on Unsplash

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