WITH very little time difference, two very close people have suffered a renal colic. “It’s like childbirth, or almost,” I’ve been told, “a horrible, unbearable pain.” Luckily, I have never had to suffer an attack like this. Montaigne suffered from frequent biliary colic, which he called “stone disease”, and he often described stones in his Essays .who tortured his kidneys, although he spoke of them almost as if they were old friends, somewhat inopportune and even annoying (always saying the same things, always repeating the same routine, always arriving and saying goodbye in the same way), but to whom in I kind of missed it if they didn’t show up. And it is that Montaigne believed that there was nothing useless in nature, not even uselessness itself. And neither does the pain.

Pain is a mystery, like everything important in life. It doesn’t really exist. As far as I know, it has not been detected by any material exploration device (doctors can detect its presence only by the effects it produces on the human body). Because pain is nothing more than a symptom, an indication, a ghost, although there is nothing more present or more solid or more real than the physical pain we feel at some point. And the same thing happens with spiritual pain, the pain of the soul (I hope the expression does not sound grandiloquent).

Because the emotional pain, the pain due to a loss or a failure or a disappointment, that pain that is not located in any specific part of the body but everywhere and nowhere.That pain, he said, isn’t real either. It’s just a sign of something wrong with our minds (or our souls, and I also hope the word doesn’t seem like an exaggeration). But that emotional pain, like love or memory, is one of the faculties that define us as humans. Any animal can feel the burn of fire. Only we –and perhaps chimpanzees and dolphins, and in a very elemental way– can feel the pain of loss or the failure of love.
I suppose that none of that serves to alleviate the pain that tortures you when you have to expel a kidney stone. Of course not. But one consoles himself as he can. And I tell myself thatIf we were not aware of the pain that can appear at any moment or that has just gone, it would be impossible to appreciate the miracle of a moment in which nothing important happens, only calm, routine, the slow passage of time.Like this arrogant light of early summer.

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