The Desert Allegory

Imagine you have to walk through the desert to get to much needed water. Imagine that the shoes on your feet are a size too small. They were super cute when you bought them, but suddenly, when you most need them, you realize they just don’t fit right (don’t you hate that?), but they were expensive, so you keep them. And now you’re stuck.

At first, when you start your journey, the too small shoes are not that bad. You scrunch up your toes. You untie the laces. You re-tie the laces. You use a fancy lacing pattern you read about online. In a fit of rage, you remove the laces altogether.

Suddenly, the too small shoes are no longer just a nuisance, they have become a full—fledged problem. You think that you cannot take another step with your feet crunched up. They are going numb. You wiggle your toes to get the feeling back. You contemplate taking the shoes off, but it really isn’t an option what with the scorching hot sand and creepy crawlies on the ground. You sit down on the ground trying to take pressure off your sore and blistered feet. You don’t sit long, though, because the water beckons.

Your lips are parched from thirst by now, in addition to the severe discomfort in your feet. Yet, you must keep going. One foot in front of the other. Slowly progressing toward the much needed water. You can’t be sure you will get there before dehydration takes over. Your brain is yelling at you to move faster but your feet are yelling back to sit down all the while your overly dry mouth cannot utter a sound.

Since the too small shoes cannot be removed, you try all manner of creative movements and positions to help alleviate the pressure and pain. It’s a long trek. Some days, the shoes feel less tight; perhaps a cooler day allows for your feet to shrink. Some days, the shoes are so tight your feet feel like they are going to burst apart; perhaps a hotter day made your feet swell. But, then, you understand there really isn’t a pattern to when the shoes are tighter or looser. Unpredictability is adding to your frustration.

You start hearing voices and you realize it is your own voice, urging you forward. “Keep moving” says the voice, “don’t give up. Water is around the corner”.  The voice isn’t always so compassionate. Sometimes the voice tells you to give up searching for the water, it tells you “the water is much too far. Your feet cannot make it. You will never get there.” You muster a stronger voice to banish the evil voice. The stronger voice bellows “You know that your sore feet can propel you onward, you just have to be tougher. You can get there.”

Finally, you reach the water. You are so relieved you cry. You slurp up the water. Your mouth is no longer dry. You find that you can talk. You utter the words “My feet still hurt”.

Does this scenario sound unpleasant? Does it make you uncomfortable? This is the daily struggle faced by those who suffer from chronic pain. Please share this post with friends and family members to help them understand your plight.

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