Week 10 Assignment – Pain is a Teacher

Pain is the teacher who carefully lays out the lesson plan to fit every day of our lives. Her tiny cryptic scrawls cover the blackboard in white. As we file into our seats, the smell of chalks fills our nostrils and covers our tongues, and seeps into our skin.

Pain pop-quizzes us Monday mornings when we are slack with sleep at our desks. Do we really have to do this now? Our Trapper Keepers and textbooks slap closed and land on the floor with a satisfying thud.

Pain surprises us with last-minute room changes posted on our classroom door, two hours after the class ended. There is no room 5-B in our two-story building. As we sit in study hall, we sweat and ring our hands. Our stomachs clench and make us dizzy with anticipation. Did we fail?

Pain tests our critical thinking skills. Turn the wrong way and pain stops us with a smack of the ruler on our backsides, bringing our attention back to the beginning of the lesson plan. Extra credit assignments stack high and sway menacingly over us. Panic rips our guts apart. How will get through this? We pass notes when the teacher isn’t looking. The test paper answers change when we aren’t looking.

After high school, birthdays become our only progress chart. Blind to the future, we grope around in the dark, searching for the light switch but sticking our fingers in the sockets and getting shocked. Our hands stick to the plate from an ungrounded outlet. We pull away, only to be drawn back into the electrical center. Zap! Zot! Muscles tense hard. We pull away hard and try again. Nothing deters us. Into the sockets our fingers go. The intensity holds us hostage and we reflexively shout. Our senses are in sharpest focus. Pain courses through our blood and electrifies us into action. Our hearts or legs get broken.

After the power has been shut off, ee close our eyes hard and pretend our lesson isn’t there. Our discipline disintegrates. We pull out hair in frustration at our lack of learning. Don’t you wish it would end and we could get some peace? We cry: No fair! Our only answer is the squeak of a rusted door that is moved slowly back and forth by the wind.


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