Consider Brueghel's painting
'The Flailing of St. Anthony'.
The suffering saint in the foreground,
in the background, a boy skating
and a man climbing an apple tree.
Man and boy seem oblivious
of the saint's agony;
but he has his back turned from them
as if unaware there are witnesses.
The events are simultaneous,
but not connected in any way.
For many years, I have managed my pain
by remaining outside the painting.
Yes, pain has been at the fore front,
but I have still enjoyed
pond and apple tree,
birds and walnut tree.
But recently the pain levels
I have found myself
drawn into the painting,
have identified with the flailed figure
and have ignored everyday life,
which has receded away from me
in both space and time.
I am not happy about this.
My prayer for the future is
that I learn to cope with the pain,
dissociate myself from the painting
and appreciate once more
the ordinariness of life:
a man picking apples,
a boy skating in sunlight.