So maybe pain gets a bad rap. Is that like the Alanis Morissette song where she thanks a bunch of things that don’t usually get thanked? Maybe.

I usually don’t feel much gratitude for pain. But it is such a great tool. I’ve realized that if I’m not acutely aware of pain or discomfort, it is much harder to pinpoint things that I need to work on – and there are many such things. In fact, my best hope is to seek out the negative feeling that is eluding me within an experience. Naturally most people spend their time seeking all things positive. Maybe that’s the saddest thing of all. What if we need to heighten our awareness of pain and sadness? They’re there, if you take the time to look for them. Most of the time emotions are mixed up like paint colors jumbled in a can. That’s why they’re hard to identify. That’s probably why joy is also elusive.

Now it may seem I am mixing my metaphors. Physical pain versus emotional sorrow? I suppose I have learned that there is much crossover. If you look for it, you will find a great deal of subjects and categories that in fact commingle in the human experience and soul.

Example: Many people may not think off hand that the act of eating is intertwined with the rise and fall of emotions occurring minute by minute, hour by hour. But what if I told you that not permitting yourself to feel sadness causes you to eat very differently? The food ends up being an aid for distancing yourself from this spectrum of emotions. We’d like to believe we’re the ones who have control over these feelings. Not so. They are pulling the strings. Uncomfortably good emotions must cause similar reactions as well.

Pain keeps us honest. That’s why playing the cello is such a fascinating pursuit. You get nearly instantaneous feedback on what you’re doing right or wrong. You can learn for as long as you like. As an activity, eating is not so helpful. You often don’t know you’ve done anything harmful until hours later. It takes years to find out that you have been developing a gut. So you have to dig a little deeper to connect to where the pain is. It’s a moment by moment sensitivity. That’s why I went for my emotions. They are accessible anytime you want them. Naturally most of the time it is a dark emotion that you need to befriend in some way or another, in order to stop using the food as a buffer or escape.

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  1. Interesting read Adam. I have observed many types of eating from equally as many people. Eat to live or live to eat. Emotional eating by some as a distraction from an event or pain is significant. Many eat in celebration. I also know some that restrict their eating and things they eat to such an extreme, for whatever reason, to a point of ill health. Some prefer to eat alone and some prefer only with friends and family. Access to foods also plays an important roll in what and how much is eaten. Then there is the economic aspect of food and what you eat. For me personally, what I eat and when I eat greatly affects how I feel when I play as well as how I play. Your connection of food and pain I am struggling to understand. Is there pain in your playing…physical pain or emotional pain…or both? There is the pain of getting through an evening of waltzes physically, and then the feeling of pain of not enjoying what you are doing….including what you are playing, who you are playing with, and why you are playing. We can discuss further. I enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for the invite.

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