Relief after pain

Relief after pain

'Sweet is pleasure after pain,' wrote John Dryden, and indeed, many of our pleasurable moments come from relief rather than undiluted joy.

Of course, a price in struggle or anxiety is paid, but the pleasure felt afterwards is no less keen.

It is this kind of pleasure that gripped Archimedes, for when he plunged himself into the bath-tub, he recognised the Principle of Displacement of water. He had been set the difficult task of calculating the exact amount of gold in the king's new crown.

We can imagine Archimedes lowering himself into the tub, then rising from it and studying with unusual interest the changing level of the liquid. Suddenly, he breaks into a run with nary a stitch on him, shouting 'Eureka, Eureka!' What he found was that a body plunged into a fluid, loses an amount of weight equal to the weight of the water displaced by it.

Archimedes was relieved, now he would be able to tell his king how pure the gold was in the king's crown.

We do not have to be celebrities to savour such pleasures. Our mundane lives are also filled with such moments big and small, all worthy of celebration. For instance, the lost earring was found; the dentist was able to fill the cavity without a root canal procedure; the incessant music spewed out from a loudspeaker ceased at last and the masonry work in the neighbourhood came to an end.

This philosophy reminds me of an incident that happened years ago.

My daughter, a very good student, had set her heart on taking up medicine as her career. In those days, one required a domicile certificate of 10 years in a state to qualify for admission into a government medical college.

As my husband's posting kept us moving from place to place, hence, she had none.  She could apply only to private colleges.

One of them was the Armed Forces Medical College. She passed the entrance exam with a good score but did not qualify in the viva because of her less than average eyesight.

Understandably, her disappointment knew no bounds. There was only one prestigious college left and she had to qualify for one of the few merit seats.

After the tough entrance test, there was a gruelling interview spanning three days. Joy of joys! she met with success.

Her happiness was so great that she swept me off my feet.

Recently, the government released a long list of risky non-banking firms. It so happened that I had invested a sum of my hard-earned money in one such firm, but had not heard from them for a long time.

A nagging thought entered my mind, could this be one of them? As it turned out, it was not. I must confess that my relief was great enough to be called a pleasure.

The young set no value on relief and pursue pleasure at the cost of life and limb. The older lot, however, are content with a beautiful sunset or a good book. But what brings them true pleasure is the relief after pain.

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