Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pleasure and Pain

It was October, 1990. I was 17, and stationed in the Army at Fort Gordon, Georgia attending communications training. I had volunteered for my unit's 10K team (for those who don't know, 10 kilometers is about 6.28 miles), and this afternoon the other "volunteers" and I would get to enjoy a little extra training for the big race.

We formed a loose formation, and our Drill Sergeant, a tall, lanky black man with bulging biceps, stood out in front to address us.

"Privates, " he said, cocking his head to the side and rubbing his hands together in a display that was part condescension, part camaraderie, "last night I tried to map our run route for today, and my car ran out of gas."

A couple of hours later, having run more than 10 miles for the first time in my life, I made an astute observation that has held true even to this day: sometimes pleasure is merely the absence of pain.

Applied to my present circumstances, I think sometimes a "good day" is defined as merely not being a bad day - at least for the time being. In the times I do feel a bit more normal, I'm just happy for a respite from the suffering.

I wish I could write that I got up this morning and everything was sunshine and lollipops again. Unfortunately, things are never that simple. Still, dark grey is an improvement over black.

Oh, and in case you're wondering - my team took 2nd place on race day, and we all got letters of commendation from the Battalion Commander.

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