Motorbikes and leprosy
The other day I was driving my motorbike around town when all of a sudden I got a puncture in my front tire. I tried to drive it to the bike shop to go and get it fixed but this was a bit harder and more frustrating than I thought it would be.
After nearly falling for the 30th time (possible exaggeration) I eventually arrived at the bike shop and went to go get a quote and to ask the guy to fix my bike. When the guy told me to take it to the back of his workshop I asked him what I thought was a very reasonable question. I said ”so how long am I going to wait?” to which he responded, “ja, just wait”, to which I asked him again along with hand signals “how long will it take for my bike to be fixed?” hoping that the hand signals and re-phrasing of the question might guide him to provide me with the information I required. His response was both unprofound and meaningless; he said “ja, just wait” and then walked away. This led me to start thinking about nothing philosophical except whether my bike would be fixed. But what happens later in my story did on some philosophical level challenge me.
I only ended up waiting about 10-15 minutes which was quite relief because I was not sure if I’d ever see my beautiful bike again. She had a pumped up tire and looked just like I saw her on her first day, except now she was a bit dirtier and not in Tableview.
I thanked the man and wasn’t sure what he mumbled to me but I think he told me to "just wait" again. I decided to leave this ever so slightly delirious man and drive home. As I started driving away I put my foot onto the footholds, except the one was much further down than it had been before. The mechanic man had fixed one of my bent footholds. You know when something has been irritating you for a while and finally it gets sorted out and you can just relax because its fixed…well this was not one of those times. Instead it felt weird. It felt awkward to now have to get used to how was supposed to be again.
I think sometimes this mentality spills over into our lives. We can get so used to bad and broken things after a while that we stop noticing them. We entertain them for so long that eventually they become natural and we almost feel comfortable with them. Instead of choosing what is correct and better, sometimes it is just easier to accept and adapt ourselves to the bad situations.
The Greek word for sensitivity is the word algeo which means “to feel pain”. When we are able to perceive pain that is when we are sensitive. When we can tell that something is harmful to ourselves and to those around us, that is when we are truly aware. If we settle for destructive behaviours or destructive relationships we are not only selling ourselves short but we have lost the basic trait of being sensually aware.
I remember being young and asking my dad why people have to feel pain; why can’t we numb our bodies so that when we get hurt we don’t have to feel it. He went on to explain the disease of leprosy to me. Lepers suffer because they are unable to feel pain and their bodies do not respond to fix the problem. If they get a cut they do not feel it and their body does not send blood cells to form a scab and fix the wound. Pain allows their body to realize a problem and respond accordingly.
We live in a world of escapism where the aim is often to get away from pain and to find satisfaction elsewhere. We have bought into a lie that says that if we pursue pleasure that pain will disappear, and maybe the pain will disappear but that doesn’t solve or mean anything. Just because the leper can’t feel the pain does not mean the sore isn’t there.
Perhaps we are becoming a generation of escapists, insensitive to the pain around us and the pain we are personally experiencing? Is it possible that we are becoming emotional and spiritual lepers?
I say this all not as someone who lives outside of this leprous behavior, but as someone who doesn’t want to anymore and is starting to desire reality and the pain that is necessary to stay in touch with God, with those around me, and with myself.