15 Seconds of Pain

a photo of a blow fist with the words "PAIN"

Flickr/Steven Depolo

A personal note: while completing a tour of structural observation in DC’s own Saint Elizabeths Hospital for mental and emotional disturbance (to the public…allegedly also for my benefit), I had to endure sugar-loaded yogurt-institutional food. Staff had the privilege of consuming cold Deer Park spring water (I call it the McDonald’s of spring water because it is a blend of many sources of H2O), while the patients enjoyed “Potomac Punch”, lukewarm water from an old dispenser. We acted like good little boys and girls so we could get the privilege of going to the vestibule where if we had the funds, we could purchase genetically modified candy from the available vending machine. Assuming we completed this hurdle without disturbing the staff’s psychological disposition, we earned the privilege of purchasing cigarettes and the ability to smoke some outdoors for 20 minutes, more or less.

My Baghdad, Iraq Sufi drummer master had written that I was the angriest person he had ever met.

While falling asleep one night at St. Elizabeths, I awakened to another patient urinating on

my bed while I was in it. Thinking fast, I decided that an outburst would be extremely counter-productive. I decided to meditate. To my surprise, I forced myself into a full lotus position for 15 seconds until the pain forced me to release my legs.

This was more than five years ago. I have not been able to replicate this feat.

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