King of Pain

I have stood here before in the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running ’round my brain
I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign
But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain…

“King of Pain” -the Police
I remember it as a bright afternoon. The slight breeze in my longish hair had a taste of fall, and a hint of the rain that came later in the evening. Was it a Saturday? It must’ve been, as I had been outside playing since lunch. I had started reading a book my sister showed me…”The Hobbit” by a guy with the name of Tolkien. A fallen branch from a tree overhanging the neighbors fence had become a sword, which I was swinging madly. My wild exclamations were subdued, as I had learned even by the age of ten or so that I was different. Most kids were playing sports or playing with pellet guns. My imagination demanded a more noble weapon. But kids are cruel to those with pretensions of nobility, real or imagined.

So between my muted grunts and oaths the only sounds were cars traveling the nearby 25th Avenue in the northeast end of Center Point, Alabama. That and the gentle song of the smallish creek that ran behind our house that emptied into Lake View just three doors down. Across the creek was a huge open area belonging seemingly to no one but a young boy with a head full of hobbits. It was enough to be a battleground or just a place to fly kites on windy days.

It happened so fast. Sword-branch swinging one minute…and the next writhing on the ground consumed by pain.

In addition to other challenges, Nature had given me the gift of a bad knee (the right one, in fact). From time to time my kneecap would dislocate, moving all the way over to the outside of my leg. As suddenly as it would pop out, it would soon pop in and I would be left with little more than some tenderness in the surrounding ligaments…that and the memory of pain.

Pain. Such a short word to describe such agony. I cannot even begin to describe just how badly it hurt. Throughout the course of my preteen years, my knee may have given way four…five times? In fact, this was the last time (knock on wood) that it happened. Thank God, because it seemed to last forever. It hurt sooo bad that I could barely breathe, much less cry for help.

I knew it would be okay in a few minutes, but if you looked out the kitchen window that day you would’ve seen a young boy literally sobbing with pain.

There are many kinds of pain, and it matters not whether physical, emotional, mental, or even spiritual; when wrapped in pain, the world stops.

Pain blinds us to the surrounding world. When your body is engulfed with pain, the other senses tend to shut down, and you focus on stopping the immediate hurt. It’s no different with the other types of pain. Whatever antenna or radar you had deployed to pick up signals from the surrounding world is cut off. You are essentially blinded indeed.

It’s a fairly simple matter to spot those in physical pain. The other kinds? Not so much. We live in a culture where everything is fine, and I’m okay. No one wants to hear about pain. Enough of that crap fills our social media and news feeds. It’s uncomfortable to have to deal with the pain that surrounds, especially as we hide our own agony. The higher the level of hurt and anguish, the higher the walls we build to contain it.

Brick by brick
And row by row
I need protection
So my wall it grows
Higher and higher
Stronger than steel
Blocks all the feeling
All the pain I feel

(Unfinished lyric by yours truly)

So here I sit enthroned, a king behind my walls…no different than most. But the world has stopped spinning. How many of us, I wonder, inhabit this kingdom?

May these walls soon crumble and this reign become a distant memory…

Silo in Thompsons Station