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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

BERKENWALD: The Freedom in Pain

Published: February 4, 2005
Section: Opinions

It is only after weve lost everything that we are free to do anything. ~ Fight Club
What is an impulse? However you define it, it is what made me get my nose pierced last Saturday. I am one of those people that, for some strange reason, never had the slightest inclination to get anything pierced. When I was younger I wanted my ears pierced, but by the time my parents would allow it, I didnt really care that much anymore, and I was no longer willing to undergo the pain of the procedure. When the piercer was about to stick a long, thick needle through my virgin nostril, he seemed very surprised that at age 19, I still didnt have my ears pierced.

Although I have certainly been a timid person, I was not always that way. I was a tree climber, a lover of highs, edges, and speed. But, after I broke my arm for the third time, (trying to ride a bike without using my hands) I decided it would be in my best interest to end my daredevil ways and become a cautious child who always used the brakes while going down hills. I continued to exercise my caution throughout high school and until very recently, when ironically, I injured my arm once again.

This past summer, I was in a pretty major car accident. Essentially, the mini-van I was driving was hit on the side (by a teensy Ford Fiesta, oddly enough) and flipped completely over. I was fine until I crawled out the window of the upside down car and was punctured by glass shards from my elbow down. I didnt feel the pain until I was calmed down in the ER, being operated on by a tired surgeon with minimal anesthetic, forced to feel every tissue he sliced in order to pry out a stubborn glass shard stuck in between my elbow bones, and then made to sit through a tedious stitching process in which 20+ stitches were needed to reconstruct what was left of the skin on my elbow and arm.

I am pretty sure, compared with all my broken bones, dislocated elbows, gashes and other calamities, that this was the most physically painful thing I have ever gone through.

Since the accident, I have been a much more cautious driver (I refused to drive at all for three weeks or so), but on the other hand, I have regained some of my more daredevilish tendencies. On my Birthright Israel trip this winter break, I dangled my legs over the edge of Masada. I swam in the Dead Sea even though I had cuts on my body. I rode a camel without holding on. (Look ma, no hands!)

I went to New York City with some not-so-close friends and without even a clear notion of who I would be staying with. I have even become more adventurous in certain areas that may not be appropriate for this venue, and lastly, without even thinking about bothering to ask for parental approval, I got my nose pierced.

Why was I suddenly willing to look past the pain that would inevitably result from voluntary nasal mutilation? Because I knew it couldnt possibly hurt as much as having a cube of auto glass twisted out from inside my elbow by a pair of tweezers. And while it did hurt quite a bit, I was right.