I want to start out today by showing you something I got last week! Check this out!
Don’t worry. It looks much worse than it feels, which has led me into an interesting series of thoughts about our collective and individual capacity for self-delusion. This bruising resulted from a series of strikes from a 220 lb man who put some weight into the shots. I clearly and obviously failed to defend. Here are some things I think I now know:
- I can take a solid hit from a grown man and not collapse entirely
- I have no idea what a solid hit even means and my sparring partner is not going to tell me
- I have a high tolerance for pain
- I do not have a high tolerance for pain, it simply takes a great deal of sensation before I perceive it as pain
- There is an emotional component to pain that I am vaguely aware of but do not really understand.
Listening to the media react to the utterly predictable triumph of Donald Trump has made me think that the thought processes I have been going through as my fighting skills develop are the same processes American voters recently went through with Trump. Trump is promising to get in the ring and beat the ever-loving shit out of the establishment and every single shred of evidence thus far suggests he is dead serious and the fight’s on!
Like sparring with a grown man, who likes and respects me, voters have elected Donald Trump on the presumptions that they can either handle his fight, or that Trump won’t hurt them. It’s a seductive way to reason, but is it true? My trainer hit me. Hard. I didn’t quit. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t overwhelmed with pain or confusion. I would dearly love to believe that’s because I am just that badass. I am just that strong.
Is that true?
Likely not. In order to build my confidence and make sure that I am not inordinately afraid, my trainer is lying to me by omission. Sure, I was hit hard and with purpose. It was not even a small fraction of the full strength I might have been subjected to. I am not yet ready to have that illusion shattered. The same is true for Trump and the American people.
Trump is promising to enact tariffs and slice open trade deals and eviscerate them. American workers understand there will be some pain associated with that, but I don’t think they really understand what that means. Yes, we want clothing and furniture and cars built in America by American workers who are paid sufficiently to purchase the products they make, but do Americans truly understand that the WalMart abundance delivered by globalism is over under Trump? Americans will have shoes and TVs and cars, but they will not be dirt cheap anymore.
That’s the price.
Trump’s trade punch is going to leave a mark.
Is America ready?
Let’s talk pain tolerance. I have given birth to three children, all without medical intervention of any kind, and no pain management other than what I could muster from within. I have taken an inordinate amount of pride in that accomplishment, and even declared that I am a better mother than wusses who run screaming for the epidural at the first hint of discomfort. But now I am not so sure. We do a lot of pain compliance techniques, and of course, before we are allowed to deploy them on others, we must feel them. We have two lead instructors, and neither of them are inclined to go easy with the demonstrations. Pain compliance techniques hurt! That’s the point!
But I have learned something interesting about myself, learning pain compliance techniques. I appear to have a great tolerance for pain, because it takes a long time before I perceive something as painful. Those are two different things. Pain tolerance is the ability to perceive and simply endure pain. To steel your mind and your reactions and simply get through it. I do not have a high tolerance for pain. The moment I perceive it, I crumble. Dental nerve crushes are the worst! I hate those! Not only are they utterly humiliating, they fucking kill! A lot of joint locks can be slightly difficult to put on me because it takes a lot before I really feel them. You need to really crank them on for me. I train with one woman (let’s call her Hannah) who is so stupidly flexible, you basically have to twist her into a pretzel before she complies. Unless it’s a hand technique. She has a wonky tendon in her hand and needs only slight pressure to trigger enormous pain.
She bursts into tears when we do hand techniques!
It’s a surprisingly effective strategy, the crying game! Women’s tears literally lower testosterone in men almost immediately, making it less likely that the man in question will continue to hurt her. It’s a subconscious reaction for Hannah, but it works like a charm. The male trainers respond instantly. I can tell it kind of irritates the shit out of them when Hannah cries, but they treat her very, very gently for the rest of the class. I kinda wish I could just burst into tears on command to achieve that effect, but I can’t! I suspect that one day I will be in enough pain that I will genuinely cry! That day will suck.
American voters walked into the voting booth on November 8th, many of them likely misunderstanding their own pain tolerance. $2 pints of strawberries in November depend on illegal immigrant labor. Remember when strawberries were a treat you enjoyed in July and August and the rest of the year they were frozen? Those days are coming back. Doing without strawberries is hardly painful, but where is the tolerance line? At what point do voters burst into tears? Voters are celebrating Trump keeping the Ford SUV plant in the US and Apple opening discussions about building iPhones on home turf. That’s great! But those jobs aren’t free. They come with a price tag, and that price will be pain at the check-out. Americans have gotten used to prices that deflate continuously. Those prices were the result of globalism. Sourcing labor around the world allows kids in Malaysia to have jobs making Nikes for fat Americans rather than starve and it allows Nike to capture record profits, but there is a price for cheap Nikes.
Trump is going to punch a hole in that paradigm, and he might temporarily protect American workers from the realization they are not the badass cowboys they think they are, but eventually, everyone is going to have to come to the realization that pain is a real thing, and everyone breaks. Those kids in Malaysia are back to starving. I am not arguing in favor of globalism. Don’t get me wrong. What kids in Malaysia eat is a problem for Malaysia to solve. But let’s not pretend that Trump’s nationalism isn’t going to come with pain. It will. And that’s okay. As long as we are aware that much of our ability to handle pain is a self-inflicted delusion.
I am unabashedly overjoyed at the Trump presidency for a number of reasons, but the fact that he is about to lay an ass whoopin’ on the whole world is my main emotional motivator. Trump is going to hurt people. A lot of people. He is going to shatter our great self-delusion that we have any idea what suffering or strength really mean. #BlackLivesMatter and rich white college kids and pampered feminists are about to find out that their ‘suffering’ has been the most enormous privilege. They will soon long to suffer the way they do now. Life is going to get a lot more basic, and consequently, have a lot more meaning.
Pain is clarifying. Hardship is instructive. There is nothing worth having that is not worth fighting for. We have forgotten that simple truth. Women especially have forgotten. Someone posted a link to this video in the comments section on an article here, and I was initially rather appalled, and amused.
Now I understand.
Voters have willingly and enthusiastically stepped into the ring with Donald Trump. He will lead the free world for the next four years, and then for four more. At the end of his term, America will be bigger, better and stronger than ever before. Of this I have no doubt. What American voters will find astonishing, particularly those on the left, is how much they will love Trump for what he is about to do.
Because American voters know the same thing I know:
Learning is a gift.
Even when pain is your teacher.
Lots of love,