I figured that this might be a good topic for tonight.
I just got back from the hospital for what was just really minor back surgery – No biggie unless you get spooked by those foot-long, square tipped needles. You know the one they used in the Three Stooges movies? “Nuk, Nuk, Nuk!”
But it did give me a chance to reflect on so many people I know who are really brave when it comes to the pain in their life and how to so many of us who indulge their occasional little bouts with physical or emotional pain, really don’t even know what real pain is all about.
I just realized this while I was writing to a sweet, brave little girl who was concerned about how my surgery went.
And I realized about halfway through my reply to her that for all of my ‘tough-guy’ self-images, I really didn’t have a clue to what real pain must be like to the unsung hero’s who smile through it every day. Our wounded men and women - soldiers who must endure a life time of pain to protect us. Those sad hoping kids that have drawn the ‘busted flush’ in life’s poker games. The ones who give and give and only get a condescending smile in return. Those who love and get used but keep loving anyway.
These are the real hero’s – not those of us – like me… maybe like you – I don’t know, who run up against a few little pin-pricks in life and think we’re tough stuff.
The black guys in our band had it right. “Perspective, my man.” They’d say. “It’s all about perspective.”
But I think that my own personal genius musical idol - Bob Dylan – who I once long ago had the singular honor of playing on the same stage with, said it best in his song “Chimes of Freedom.”
“Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed. For the countless accused, misused, abused strung-out ones and worse. And for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe…”
That says it all.
And if you like, here’s a peek at the road through my mushy brain that wised me up to this truth tonight.
It’s the response to my dear sweet friend who was kind enough to spare a thought for someone who’s tough-guy antics long ago ceased to matter. But then we all pretend in some way or another – don’t we?
Anyway, I don’t think she’ll mind if I share my ramblings with you as well.
What???? You had a back operation... today! There is no such thing as a "small back surgery"..... What is going on? I know a lot about back pain.... My spine is the actual shape of the letter S... for real! Lucky for me the curve at the top is equally dramatic as the lower curve so they level each other out and allow me to look "normal".... It hurts.... back pain sucks eggs!
Are you okay? I will say a special prayer for ya!
Nah, don't sweat it darlin'
It gives me a chance to prove to me that I'm still 'macho'
When I used to fight in my bad, bad old days - I always used to try to smile while I was bleeding. It always freaked out the guy who was tryin' to beat the crap outta' you.
You know wipe the blood away from your face, spit the blood from the cuts inside your mouth onto the floor and tell 'em, "Is that the best you've got?"
Freaked 'em out almost every time.
The only problems came with the very few who'd smile back at me and say, "Oh no kid - I got a whole lot more."
Those were rough.
But I'm back home now with bandages on my back, an ice pack strapped on to me and the 3d... or maybe it's the 4th, cold beer in my hand, Screw the pain Meds! (some guys never change - sigh)
But enough of my retro attempt to prove to myself that I can still take it.
What's this about your back ?
I don't doubt for a minute that you've overcome some heavy obstacles in what sounds like a fascinating life but have somehow managed to keep it from haunting your face as so many that I knew and still do - including me - still do.
You're something special darlin'
The back is acting up and wants to make me a sissy and pop the pain Meds - but what fun would that be?
I've got them on the side of my desk so I can look at them while they stare back at me and tease me.
The Hell with them - I'll get another beer. Maybe that makes me a sissy too.
There was an old black blues guitar player when I lived down in Kentucky who used to say, "We all got our poison man - You just gots to know yours".
I guess I know mine all too well.
Write me back sweet girl. Your shining smile and resilient soul helps me to do what I gotta do - suck it up.
And, yes say a little prayer for me - I gave it up 40 years ago and never went back. But I've got a hunch that every prayer that you utter goes straight to the source.
Ric Wasley – Author/Musician
•Shadow of Innocence - Kunati - 2007
•Newport Blues (limited Edition)
•Acid Test – 2004
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