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A Million Pieces

What'd they have to do?
Cap the outside two, fill a cavity on this one.
I point to my outside left tooth.
Root canals on these.
I tap the middle two. They are firm.
They give you good drugs?
They didn't give me anything.
No fucking way.
They didn't give you anything?
You got root canals on your two front teeth without any drugs?
Leonard looks at me as if what I have said is incomprehensible to him.
- James Frey in A Million Little Pieces

This section of James Frey's story reminded me of the anecdote I had told about my mom's client a few years ago. When my grandfather passed away, one of my mom's clients had approached her and said, "May God never give you as much pain as you can endure." A comment that at first startled her but then revealed its wisdom.

Our bodies, minds, and hearts seem to be capable of enduring huge quantities of pain. Imagine moments of huge panic or fear. Enormous happiness. In those moments we appear to have extreme strength. We can take the pain. Think of the guy who cut of his arm because it was trapped and he was otherwise going to die. He broke each of his own bones and then cut it off. I don't imagine he would have said he could endure that sort of pain, until he did. We seem capable of doing things beyond our imagination.

I guess the reason I wanted to note this was to remind myself that I am capable of putting up with a lot. That during weak moments of despair and sorrow, I'm still far away from what I can endure if I had to. And that things really are quite good, all things considered.

Reading Frey's story is helping me keep things in perspective and also realize that humans have extraordinary strength and resilience.

June 02, 2004 | literature | share[]
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