Random Harvest 12

This will be a very eclectic harvest today, but will the reflect the good and the bad of the last two weeks for me. From serious toothache and emergency trips to the dentist, to finishing a painting and developing afghan crochet squares, to finding a new book to read as a result of some serendipitous blog reading, and following on from Lin Yutang’s philosophy, a video featuring a simple rule of life –  that maybe, just maybe, we should be grateful for everything.

So here we go…

No Pain, no gain?

Is this true? I’ve been asking myself recently. This philosophy is ingrained in our culture. From physical fitness and feeling the burn with Jane Fonda, who used this aphorism in her workout videos, to the pursuit of any endeavour we put our heads and hearts into. We should take the knocks, we are told, to build our resolve, mettle, and stamina, to weather the adversity, so that when the gold stars come our way, we have really earned them. Freud called it the pleasure-pain principle. Twitter and facebook are riddled with such memes, to encourage us that the ‘pain’ will be worth it in the end as long as we don’t give up. This is also similar to the idea of what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger which I’ve just discovered comes from Nietzsche, the existentialist:

In 1888, Nietzsche wrote “Aus der Kriegsschule des Lebens -. Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker,” which can be translated as “Out of life’s school of war—what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” It appears in his book of aphorisms, Twilight of the Idols, and no further explanation follows.

Nietzsche expanded on the idea somewhat in his autobiography Ecce Homo, also composed in 1888. Here, he refers to select individuals as “nature’s lucky strokes…among men,” and says of such a person, “He divines remedies for injuries; he knows how to turn serious accidents to his own advantage; that which does not kill him makes him stronger.”

University of Glasgow philosophy professor Michael Brady explains that Nietzsche does not seem to think that all suffering will result in strength, but rather that he is suggesting one should take suffering as an opportunity to build strength, and that those who are already strong are those who can do so. In his book Death Desire and Loss in Western Culture English philosopher Jonathan Dollimore describes this process of embracing suffering as an opportunity to gain strength, calling it a “magical, cannibalistic ingestion.”

Wow! Now, like many of us, I have had times in my life where this no pain, no gain, seems to have reaped benefits in toughening me up. Making me more resilient, more able to bounce back after adversity, to hold my own. But I’m not entirely sure how much it really strengthens our spirit or adds to our sense of wellbeing. Maybe it just helps us deal with the stresses and strains of life, to not cave in, but life surely should be far more than that, not merely about survival. No pain, no gain, and nothing that doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, don’t seem to me to have truly positive long term benefits, and it certainly doesn’t, in my view, have much bearing upon our creative lives. If it does, then there’s something wrong. Thoughts on this most welcome!

Anyway, I was able to test these ideas recently when I had bad toothache after a deep molar filling about three weeks ago. There was no pain when it was first suggested I needed a filling and I did was I was told, I had a filling. Without boring you with the details (well, not too much;>)), I ended up changing dentists, having the new filling removed by an emergency dentist, and a temporary one put in with a soothing dressing. Verdict – the filling was very close to the nerve, but the tooth may ‘settle’. It didn’t. Next up was the pain increasing, and my stress and anxiety levels escalating, and a visit to the new dentist I registered with, who persuaded me to keep trying to see if the tooth would settle down. It didn’t. By this time I wanted it extracting! Next visit, the nerve of the tooth was finally designated as irreversibly damaged and I was persuaded to have it prepped for a root filling right there and then. If it didn’t work, then the tooth could be extracted. This is where the no pain, no gain theoretically came into play. I was exhausted, desperate and nervous. The pain after the anaesthetic was injected was horrendous, the pain as the nerves were ‘tested’ for ‘whatever’ was horrendous. I yelped at times. I couldn’t believe what I was sitting through, but of course, my thinking now was no pain, no gain – the gain being the end of toothache.  When I came away I couldn’t believe what I had just sat through. I didn’t know I was that ‘tough’. During the procedure I’d seen Dustin Hoffman in my mind’s eye being tortured by the evil Nazi in Marathon Man. So why did I do it? Well I garnered some trust through the dentist being this lovely petite lady from Mallorca. The accent was different and I listened and believed. She told me what she was doing every step of the way and warned me in advance of ‘discomfort’. Her verdict was that all the pain made sense as the nerves were vey inflamed. I came away with antibiotics to take, and to make an appointment for a weeks time for the root filling to be completed.

I expect you’re thinking it is sorted out now. Answer, no. The second appointment is weeks away, as most of the dentists are on holiday. ‘Should be fine left until the beginning of August,’ I was told. But only today, one side of my tooth came away as I gently nibbled at a cheese scone, only to be followed by the temporary filling crumbling away. So now I will have to ring the dentist’s emergency number on Monday morning, supposedly to continue this no pain, no gain experiment. Only I’ve made up my mind –  if it hurts again, it’s coming out. No pain, that’s a gain.

Now onto the finishing of the work in progress I’ve shared with you, which you’ll hopefully be pleased to learn was a painless process!

From these previous stages, to the final:

The working into the embossed wallpaper printed patterns, with more realistically painted supplementary grasses and seed heads, worked better than I anticipated and it didn’t take as much time as I’d envisaged  – so it’s a good technique to use another time. Yay! I had to create added depth in the foreground textures to invite the eye into the scene. And I decided the sky was too plain, but I didn’t relish adding too many clouds, so I settled for a very subtle one or two to give increased visual perspective and hopefully to lend a misty feel to the view, which I’ve entitled ‘Field Walk’.

New skill learning with crocheted afghan squares.

It’s funny, the friend who I was kind of competing with over learning these afghan square techniques has actually ‘gone off them’, while I continue to want to learn more. I was somewhat mystified by this response, and yet it reminded me of my own nature, which I decided to appreciate. I like to know and I love to learn new skills and to take them wherever they may lead me. I’ve learned two afghan square patterns so far and would like to learn a third, as long as it’s at about the same skill level, so I’m open to suggestions. Here is a layout of what I’ve got going so far:

And onto a new discovery and serendipitous blog-reading.

I was reading through my favourite bloggers posts this week, as I usually do, and I found a post by ‘The Used Life’ entitled ‘On the art of wildness’. Well, the lady writer drew me in with art and wildness in her title.

The Used Life often focuses on assessing ideologies on ‘the creative life’ and more generally the psychology and philosophy of life, and in this post, I realised I was kind of in the same ‘place’ currently. Here is what she says:

The more I contemplate issues of purpose and meaning—and have contemplated them historically, as finding meaning was the quest that brought this blog into being—the more I seem to move definitively toward purposelessness. That is, the more I begin to understand that it’s the need for such a quest that’s the problem. And that struggling with feelings of purposelessness and meaninglessness represent a kind of collective soul sickness. An impoverishment of the spirit that affects all of us, I think, at some point in our lives. 

 Then in our comments engagement, she drew me to a book called Become what you are by British and American philosopher, Alan Watts, who interprets Buddhism and Taoism ideas for western ways of life.  Since it seems to be somehow in line with Lin Yutang, I’ve ordered a copy to hopefully relish. It looks like Hilary Mantel’s French Revolutionary novel, A Place of Greater Safety, as thick as a cord of wood, which I am presently a third of the way through, will have to wait, doesn’t it?

Alan Watts’s rich and very British BBC accent can be heard in many Youtube videos expounding on theories drawing upon the Eastern religions. If you are interested in checking him out, here is a shorter video I managed to find, on living a harmonious life, with a lovely weaving analogy for those who love textile craft.

And the weird thing is I spotted his videos when I was watching this wonderful video and song entitled ‘Grateful for it all’ which I was led to by Galen Pearl’s blog article of the same title. And thank you, Galen!

So this song just has to be the finale of this post! And I hope you enjoy it :>)

(pics from Lynne)



About lynnefisher

Writer and visual artist living in Scotland, INFJ type Writer's blog: lynnefisher.wordpress.com Art: lynnehenderson.co.uk Twitter @LynneHendFisher Writers page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnefisherheadtoheadhearttoheart/ Artists page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnehendersonartist/
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17 Responses to Random Harvest 12

  1. I wish healthcare and dental care were more affordable here. It’s a shame to have to finance either one, which I did—one year, interest free. The hope is borrowers will default on the line of credit and then the finance charges begin at 29% (yes! 29% interest rate!) Fortunately, I’m able to make the payments, many aren’t. But, that’s just one of our many problems in the US right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh no! Sorry about the tooth. I hope it’s sorted out better now. I went through dental problems last summer. They are painful and not cheap to remedy. I had to have a root canal and crown—almost 3,600. Not a way I wanted to spend money. Your finished piece is so delightful. It makes me peaceful and happy. The colors work together so beautifully.
    What a coincidence: I’ve been watching a lot of Alan Watts YouTube videos. He presents tough topics in an accessible way. He was one of the great teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Many thanks, Cheryl! It’s less expensive over here for dental treatment but escalates for implants. Hoping to avoid that for now with the same as you had, the root filling and the crown. That really was a huge expense – would be inconceivable here. Many thanks for the compliments on the painting – much appreciated. And I’ve been seeing some pinkish grasses flowering in the fields around me just now. I think they are Holcus lanatus (aka ovr here, Yorkshire fog) so I kind of like that. As for Alan Watts, he talks sense in his videos and has a mesmerising voice!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sumi Singh Writes says:

    Hello Lynne! I had a root canal done years ago. It was horrible. To top it all, I bit into licorice and the tooth cracked. I had to have it pulled out. The problem with pulling out teeth is that although they seem a good option to get rid of pain and anxiety, it leaves a gap in the mouth that affects eating. So you’re damned if you do and you damned if you don’t. I have braces now which is pulling my teeth nice and straight, but the gaps are still there and I’ll have to have implants put in, which is costly and painful too. This teeth thing is not for sissies. I hope you feel better soon ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Hi Sumi! Oh crikey – you went through all that and had to have the tooth out?! Yes, I’m so aware now of not wanting any more gaps in my lower jaw molar area because yes, it affects eating. So hopefully the root canal can be completed and a crown put on to avoid this problem. But if the tooth has to come out I’m thinking of an implant too, but they are really costly, of course. No pain now, great! And app for beginning of August to review and hopefully do the treatment and not pull it out. I have had root canal before and it was so straight forward, not this time. A friend of mine is going through the teeth straightening process with braces and it’s working well. Good going to you for doing it! Cheers, Sumi, and thanks for sharing :>)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ari says:

    I love the style of those squares, and the dersil in the painting is stunning

    Liked by 1 person

  5. galenpearl says:

    Oh that tooth saga made me cringe. How terrible. I get migraines, usually mild, but occasionally one will put me right on the floor in the bathroom for hours. The last time that happened, I had just been to a meditation workshop where we observed things that arose and let them go without identifying with them. An example was, “thinking is happening.” So after spending some time on the floor waiting for medicine to kick in and then realizing that it wasn’t going to, I sort of surrendered and started telling myself, “pain is happening.” Somehow that got me through it.

    But pain in my tooth like you describe? I would be screaming for drugs, serious drugs!

    That painting. I love it. I wish I could see it in person. Actually, I wish I could buy it and hang in on my wall, so I could look at it all the time. It really is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Hi Galen! Head and face pain of any kind strikes me as just too much, Galen. Surrendering to pain is a good practice for when painkillers just don’t work, but of course it is tough to do! Still, that breathing out and letting go is what I try to do when I’m getting an injection or something similar and that works well. No pain for now though…what a difference!

      I’m so pleased you like the painting. The final version is always scanned so the colours are more uniform and richer as they are in reality, but the painting is a much softer one than is my more usual style. It’s 50 by 50 cm on a chunky 3cm deep canvas, no frame needed. I’d be happy to sell it to you for a very reasonable cost and ship it over, not that I’ve ever shipped anything but I need to learn. I’m just telling you in case you are very compelled, Or you could buy it from your side of the Altantic from my shop at Fine Art America as a canvas print etc. The quality should be spot on. I don’t like doing this ‘pitch’ thing but I’ve got to get better at selling myself, so hope you don’t mind! Here is the link to the page https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-lynne-henderson.html?tab=artwork. Tastes in art are so varied, it’s interesting to see who likes what, and I love that you love this one, Galen :>)


  6. Rick Ellrod says:

    Hope your teeth will be feeling better soon, Lynne!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. lynnefisher says:

    The used life says: Thank you very much for the mention! And I’m glad you’re finding Watts a useful resource. A friend of mine listens to him on YouTube quite a bit, but I have not yet.

    My reply:

    It’s a pleasure – I didn’t think you’d mind me quoting you but it was a little presumptious perhaps. Pleased you’re pleased. You’ll need hours to spare to listen to Alan Watts, but I think you’ll like it. His voice stays with you! Looking forward to reading his book :>)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Lynne, I was at a didgereedoo performance last night in Abbey St. Bathans Kirk,(it was very good) and the musician said he began playing and practicing because his life had completely fallen apart and that he keeps his life difficult so that he doesn’t get complacent, so that he is forced to stay alert and awake. Not his actual words but that was the gist for me. If I didn’t see life like that I would find it difficult to come out of a difficult phase. We have to keep waking up so that we can experience the present moment fully and in that there is a contentment. Actual physical pain is something else but it passes most of the time and again it can be seen as something that can be transcended. A difficult practise when the pain is incessant I’m sure. Hope it settles for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thank you Sylvia, what an interesting person! Maybe for ‘difficult’ we could substitute ‘challenging’ in the sense that there is always something to concentrate on apart from perceived complacencies – a kind of moving forward. I like the idea of having to keep on waking up to the new and the present – very wise! I think I’m on the home run with the tooth problem now, so feeling a lot more present! Cheers, Sylvia :>)


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