Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mind Over Matter

     Jodi carried a steaming cup of coffee into the chilly garage. David stood at his workbench, cutting a piece of wood with a power saw. She waited until he turned it off before approaching.
     “Hey there,” she said, sliding up next to him. “How’s it coming?”
     “Slow, but steady.” David held up the half-finished project for her to see.
     “Wow, I’m impressed. I never had a boyfriend who knew how to build a birdhouse from scratch before. You’re just full of surprises. By the way, this is for you.” She held out the cup of coffee. “I figured you might be getting cold out here.”
     David smiled and reached for the cup. Just before he took it, Jodi sneezed, causing the hot liquid to spill over his hand.
     “Oh no! I’m so sorry!” She quickly grabbed a shop towel and began to sop up the mess. “That was really hot water. Do you have any burn spray?”
     “No, but don’t worry about it,” said David. “I’m fine.”
     Jodi looked at him as if he were crazy. “Fine? That water was boiling a minute ago. You’re hand must be in horrible pain right now. How can you bear it?”
     He smiled and gave her a calming look. “Pain is all in your head, Jodi. I’ve spent many years practicing meditation and learning to control my inner thoughts. Over time, I’ve developed the ability to channel away pain so that it no longer dominates my mind.”
     “For real?” Jodi stroked his scalded hand, now bright red. “You mean you don’t feel the burn at all?”
     David didn’t even flinch. “Not one bit.”
     She let go of his hand and moved closer, wrapping her arms around his waist “David, that’s the most amazing thing I ever heard! I can’t believe how incredible you are. Is there nothing you can’t do—wait a minute, did you just clamp your other hand in that vice grip?”
     David looked where she was staring. “Oh, that? Well… yes. You see, the best way to block pain out from your mind is to create a bigger pain that is even more distracting.”
     She thought about this. “You mean, you stuck that hand in the vice grip so you wouldn’t feel the burn… because the vice grip hurts more?”
     David nodded.
     “David, that’s insane!” She broke her embrace and tried to open the grip, but it was clamped too tight. “Your hand is turning purple! How are you supposed to ignore that?”
     “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve got it.”
     She backed away as he picked up a large hammer. Without another word, he held it upside down and let it drop—right onto his foot.
     “Ow!” David yelped. With his hand still stuck in the vice, he began leaping on his good foot. “There, you see? I don’t even feel the vice grip anymore.”
     “But now your foot is probably broken!” She stared helplessly. “How can you stand it?”
     “It’s not a problem,” he said. “Just hurry up and kick me in the groin!”

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