Why Bother to Learn From Pain?
One of the duties of my job as a public school teacher is knowing how to apply Band-aids. A scuffed knee, a finger cut, or road rash on the palm of a student’s hand requires me to stop and listen as they “show and tell” how the injury happened. Then I apply a Band-aid and they go on their merry way, unless it is more serious.
The more serious injuries such as a blood soaked pant leg, a swollen lip with snot and tears pooling just above it, or a body held up between two helpful friends, are the ones I point toward the office. Then, the secretary who has a bigger first aid kit than mine, will clean the wound with an antiseptic wipe, apply antibiotic ointment, gauze and pads. The child may even get to sit in the office with an ice pack on their wound, and miss a spelling or math test.
Yet, as much as I hate to see anyone get injured, it is the rough and tumbles, the bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes that children learn important life lessons; it hurts to fall.
But it’s not only the physical abrasions that hurt, the emotional ones do too. Since I cannot be everywhere at once, I do not hear the little whispers exchanged in the hallway or rude comments dropped on a student as someone walks by their desk. I do get the after effect of those hurtful words that are said to someone. “Nobody likes me.” “He just called me a bad name.” “She just said that I was dumb.”
As much as I don’t like anyone to be unkind, rude words are spoken. But life lessons are learned with them too. Not everyone is kind, not everyone is fair and not everyone can be trusted.
Whether old, young, or somewhere in the middle, feeling physical or emotional pain alerts us to the fact that something is not right, that something needs attending to and help is needed.
Since I’m the teacher, my students trust that I will help them or find someone who can. They know that they can count on me for help. When they say, “ouch,” I am alerted.
How awful it would be for anyone to not feel pain. If you don’t know when you are injured, if no one hears you say, “ouch,” then how can anyone help you tend to the hurt?
Lacking an awareness of pain would only lead to a worsening condition, an accumulation of wounds and woundings. Repeated injuries, whether physical or emotional, if left unattended, or ignored, become far worse than initially acknowledging the distress and asking for help.
So why bother to learn from pain? It’s life’s bruises and strains that alert us to lots of lessons; it hurts when we fall, life is not fair, not everybody likes me, and not everyone is trustworthy. But it is worth it to know when you hurt so that you can ask somebody for a Band-aid when you need one.