PIN and pain

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - October 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Regular readers of this column would be familiar with the acronym P.I.N or Person In Need. Very recently one of the PINs in my life called in to tell me that he couldn’t walk and was in great pain. After a few seconds of concern, I quickly determined that the guy was having a severe case of gout, aside from his string of woes and ailments. Knowing it was not a life-threatening situation, I told him I’d get back to him.

After finishing up with a couple of business meetings, I found myself driving up to the nearby Mercury drugstore and buying a week’s worth of over the counter medicines, all proven and tested to deal with severe cases of gout. After dropping off the medicines, I then drove to a nearby supermarket to buy two bags worth of ice so my PIN can spend the day putting his foot in a bucket of ice. Like so many veterans of the gout sneak attacks, I was so proud of how I’ve mastered how to deal with the curse and the pain. Now all I had left to think about was why I was given the dubious honor of being a nursemaid to someone who should know better and take better care of himself.

Just then it all came together. Like some instant reply, I was taken on a mental rewind of something very painful in my past, the time when I too had a gout in the most inconvenient of times and place.

Sometime ago, I had the very same experience while on board a Philippine Airlines flight to Cebu. The severe gout attack was unexpected and a first for me. The pain as well as the embarrassment of being helpless made it all unforgettable. But in exact proportion, the kindness and assistance of the PAL flight crew, a porter at the Cebu Airport and the attention of the Marriott Cebu Hotel staff and PR also made the experience equally unforgettable. But you have to wonder what all that pain actually served except to tell me to watch my diet, right?

Well, all that pain served to help me appreciate what pain someone else was experiencing. Because I knew how much it hurt, I simply could not ignore or dismiss the other person’s pain and difficulty. There are many things we can ignore or brush aside, but pain has a way of grabbing us by the ears and telling us to our face: I’m pain and I’m going to make you feel me and remember me! I could be wrong but I think it was my friend and Pastor Joey Bonifacio who wrote: “Pain is a gift no one wants.” But pain serves many purposes. It tells us something’s wrong, it tells us to slow down or rest, it tells us something is injured or “growing.” Pain tells us many things if we actually stopped to listen.

In my case my past pain prepared me for someone’s future pain. It prepared me to be more responsive, more compassionate and be able to provide the solution. I am not naturally nice, I don’t go out like Don Quixote looking for someone to help or a dragon to slay. But my past pains are generally the seeds from which my garden of causes and quests has sprung. Sometimes we don’t have to be “nice guys” or saints to want to help others, sometimes our past pains simply make us hate “it” so much that we won’t tolerate it happening to others. As many of us who have lived long enough and suffered enough, Love and Hate are equally powerful motivations.

I once posted on Facebook that “Superheroes” all have one thing in common, they had to undergo an extreme test, extreme pain and extreme sacrifice. 

Physiologically pain is not without purpose and the same can be said in terms of spirit and emotions. The question is how we respond to the pain and what lessons we take from it. Many of the toughest people I know are not natural born toughies, they did not choose to let pain toughen them up, what many have in common is that they gave purpose to their pain. What pain does to you is your choice, in the same way it’s your choice what to do with the pain.

You can either let it defeat you and break you, you can slap it back and learn from it to help others, or you can really, really hate it and dedicate yourself to fight it and beat it.

Just think about it, several months back I was in pain and embarrassment. Several months forward I spent part of the morning helping to relieve someone of the same pain. A few hours later, I’m writing about pain and how we can all turn our pain into a solution, not just ours but for others. Is that what they meant with: “No pain, No gain”?

*      *      *

After reading my column on “colorum buses,” former LTO and LTFRB chief Bert Suansing advised me that the bus franchises are not renewed annually, only the supervisory fee. Perhaps P-Noy should look into this absurd setup where the government has all the headaches and where the bus operators, legal and illegal, make all the money. At the very least, the franchises should be “updated” annually, the fees increased to levels that are not grossly unfair and disadvantageous to the government.

On the other hand, someone who is obviously from the bus operators sent me a note to point out that the bus operators and drivers are always to blame on the matter, but no one takes note of the fact that “the LTFRB has had four heads in five years,” and that almost always, the government appoints someone who spends at least two to three years before having a real working knowledge of the agency.

At the end of the day, everyone agrees that the government is losing money, unable to regulate the transport industry and has degraded into a situation where no one is responsible. As someone puts it, the government has reached “organized chaos.”


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