Some people say “Pain is a gift.” others say “Pain is NOT a gift.” And then we have those who say “Don’t tell me whether or not MY pain is or is not a gift, dammit!” OK. So I see your point. And I think that pain is, in fact, a gift. A gift from the universe. But maybe it is not the gift you wanted. Maybe it is not what you asked for. It wasn’t on your list. It’s like getting another ancient dried-out fruitcake from your drunk great-uncle Stan in the mail, and your mom claims you have to write a thank-you note. Ugh. “I asked for an axe and a leather thong and I got this stupid bottle of Jean Nate and another pair of Isotoners!” I know. You don’t even have the receipt.
But we do not get to choose our gifts. We don’t get to register with life. That is why it’s called “gifts”—because it is given to us. It may not be the right time. But it is not like shopping at the mall, where you can pick the right size, the right color. Where you can choose from 30 different flavored salts, all of which kinda suck.
Pain is a gag gift. Illness is a flaming pile of dogshit left on your doorstep. A stupid psychic booby prize. A yankee swap full of Neanderthals.And we must be alchemists and turn our gag gift into, if not gold, at least a tool we can use. We may say “if that’s all you’ve got, universe, pain and suffering, just don’t give me anything! Skip it this year!” but the universe HAS to give you something. You’re third cousins. On your Mom’s side. And the universe is obligated. She agonized over catalogs. She abhors a vacuum.
So until the universe employs a personal shopper who can sort out who has “more than they can handle” and who does not we are going to receive these cursed packages in the mail. We are going to have to pay the rent on self-storage units to put all of our gifts, our amazing gifts and our cursed gifts, in until we can rehome them. We are going to have to build a first-aid kit to treat the fucked-up universe. And we are going to have to write a thank-you note to our creepy uncle. Even though we’d prefer not to.
PLEASE NOTE: this essay is meant to be humorous. also, YES, i live with a chronic condition. ok.