You don't have to live through reruns of pain.

I kept replaying the movie in my mind

A child being hugged. A young woman silently weeping. A group of men cheering for their sports team. Every day we're presented with a variety of images. Some of these images delight. Some disturb. We need to watch how we let any of them affect us, including the ones that catch us off guard by shocking us. This is a lesson that began for me one rainy Saturday and later resulted in the healing of an injured arm.

On that particular wet afternoon, while I was flicking the television from channel to channel, a well-known actor appeared on screen. The character he was portraying in the movie was being physically tortured. The scene was so unexpected and so vividly depicted that I could not forget it. In the days that followed, this graphic slice of cinematography kept replaying in my mind with such tenacity that I wondered if I would ever be rid of it.

I eventually found freedom from this disturbing image when I realized that I hadn't stopped to differentiate between what is real and what isn't. I'd been so caught up in what I'd seen, that I hadn't acknowledged the sheer illusion of this piece of movie-making. The actor wasn't being tortured by his captors. He wasn't in pain. I had overlooked this fundamental point. When I finally recognized the unreality of it all and stopped identifying with the image of suffering, I ceased to be adversely affected by it, and I regained my peace of mind.

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Are you really aging?
June 22, 1998

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