Pain Forget Pain

June 1, 2023, Israel


We are never content, always trying new situations. 

There is a classic old story about monkeys. 

One dark night seven monkeys sat cold and shivering in a tree. It was cold outside. It was raining. One of the monkey’s said, “We should build a house.”

“Yes,” said the other monkeys, “let’s build a house tomorrow.” But when the sun came up the monkeys forgot all about building a house. They ran and played and had fun in the sun… but when night came it got cold, and it started to rain.

Again the monkeys sat in the tree, they were wet and cold.

One of the monkeys said, “Tomorrow we should build a house.” “Yes,” said all the others, “Tomorrow we will build a house.” But when morning came, and the sun came up, the monkeys started to run and play and have fun.” They wanted a house at night, but during the day they just wanted to play. -THE END

But there is a different kind of "forgetting", one that is more challenging. 

Sometimes someone will have a spiritual awakening, he will try to capture the moment, to remember it, to keep it alive and use it again in the future, but alas, it is very difficult. Some will capture that great moment in a song, a poem, or a work of art. To be able to "go back" to that great moment and relive it, is truly a gift. But usually, it is forgotten.

Some will remember the moment they graduated college, or for some, the release from Auschwitz, or a POW camp. But that "moment", that high, is difficult to relive. That is why we have special days, to remember, to focus and try to remember. We have Memorial Day, and Independance Day, but for most people, sadly, it is just a day off, to have a barbecue, to the beach, or shopping. The special feeling is lost on them.  

And then there is Pain. 

These days, unfortunately, I am in a great deal of pain. It varies from uncomfortable annoying pain (like at this very moment where I can function enough to write, which serves as a great distraction) to moments, nay hours, where I am screaming in pain. Fortunately, my neighbors cannot hear me. This made me think of my dear mother, may she rest in heavenly peace, after her knee surgery. She would cry out "God in heaven, stop the pain!"and I would look at my watch to see how soon I could give her another pain killer. I did not want her to overdose.  She kept saying, "These are not working". but they were, it just took time and when you are in extreme pain, time is not your friend. Waiting for the painkillers to kick in is like waiting for the Messiah. 

I am suffering from Terrible Knee pain. I do not know the source or the reason, neither do the doctors. Being told to "take it easy", does not work for me. I was told this a month ago, and I said, "but I have three European seminar tours and then Tour and Train. Dr. Eisenmanns' answer, "Cancel". 

Sure, really. 

Ironically it was the long uphill walk to the synagogue here in my town that caused the pain to become truly inflamed. Now when the pain is 'acting up', it is excruciating. I feel like shouting "God in heaven, make is stop!" like my dear mother. And worst of all, it feels like an eternity, it feels like it will never, ever, end. In fact, and this is a key point, I cannot even imagine at these moments what it feels like to be pain free! All I can think of is - I want the pain to stop, but I cannot feel or imagine what that would feel like, to have no pain. 

Sadly, my dear father, may he rest in heavenly peace, suffered terrible physical pain most of his life, from an old college football injury. He used to say, "If people only knew what five minutes without pain felt like..."

Now there is a Krav Maga application here. When the pain is intense, I cannot think of anything else other than "Stop the pain". But when the pain subsides, I return to my normal activities. And I feel the analogy is, when people are in danger, in trouble, all they can think of is, "Get me out of this mess!" They will promise anything to extricate themselves from this horrible situation. They can think of nothing else other than escaping this awful nightmare they are experiencing. But when it is over (If it ends well), they return to their regular activities. 

Now a few, very few, will now turn to Krav Maga classes. I know of many people who survived horrible assaults and came to train in Krav Maga. For them it is not only a precaution, lest they face violence again, it is also a healing empowerment, a way to regain their self-confidence. But these are a tiny percentage of those who were assaulted. The rest, like the monkeys in the rain, quickly move on. 

I am going through a period of pain, but I am trying to learn from it, and share these lessons. I may have to make some life style changes, not sure what those might be, perhaps eat some different food, but the key lesson here is that when we feel Pain, we can think of nothing else. But when that pain passes, it is as if we never felt it. The "feeling" is gone and we cannot remember it. We cannot "recall" it at will. 

Like the feeling of spiritual awakening, or a moment of great inspiration, once the moment passes it is very difficult to "relive" it. Poems, songs, paintings, are just the attempt to capture that moment for the future. Once the pain is gone, it is physiologically "forgotten". and this, my friends, is a shame. 

We must try and remember the pain, even when we feel no pain. We must remember the danger, when we are not in danger so that unlike the classic monkeys in the rain, we will prepare for the future. We will be ready when the "cold" comes.

Luck favors the prepared. Be prepared!


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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