What is Pain?

For that matter, what is feeling in general? Not that I am a professional feeler by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve had my share of stimuli throughout the years. A friend of mine, Dr. Ankin, tweaked his back and it got me thinking about pain and how I put it in my writings.

Casting my research in a wider net, I spoke to my physical therapist about pain and came to the understanding that the sensation is different from person to person. A professional athlete or soldier can function despite a level of pain that would cause the average person to pass out. To counter, my physical therapist said she had worked with patients who simply could not function because of nagging, localized pain.

Pain is relative.

So, how does it fit into writing? Love often drives literature. Love is a feeling, much like pain, or hunger, or pride. They are each different and arise from different places within our persona, but they can drive a character to different ends.

Pain can drive a hero into a frenzied state in which she disregards her body to protect a fallen comrade or lift a life-pod from a child. Likewise it can plunge a character into drug addiction as they seek to block out the sensations that dominate their soul. Sometimes characters become one dimensional, their creator revealing revealing a solitary, driving stimulus, but the more complex a character the more they live and breath and love and hate.

Oftentimes a character in literature or film is a caricature or an amalgamation of several extreme cases. We as creators do this to make evident the flaws and strengths of the character.

We like to ask questions we don’t always have the answers to. Why is the alcoholic drawn to liquor? Why is that person drawn to tragic love? Why do I love cake?

Society today likes to place the blame elsewhere. My parents didn’t love me enough so I replace them with cheesecake… see, I even draw their faces on the two cakes I eat every morning for breakfast. My father was an alcoholic, so I have no choice. The list goes on.

But a character, like every person is given choices. That’s what makes a good character come to life. Frodo could take the ring. Ender could refuse to play the game. Ahab could fish for tuna, or anything else in the ocean. Not a single character is without choice for that would give us writing that we fail to connect with. Even if they make a poor decision, they have made that decision.

Speaking of which, I wonder why Daisy is an alcoholic? Hopefully, we find out in this installment of Atom & Go.

Til next time, keep reading, keep flying the black, and make good decisions for your life.

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