Author: David W. Earle, LPC
Title: Professor of Pain – A Lesson Before Living
Release Date: Available now
Reviewer: Valerie Porter
Professor of Pain sounds like the title of a Stephen King horror novel. But the subtitle – A Lesson Before Living – tells a different story, and that is at the heart of an inspiring book by author David W. Earle.
The author says that his work is either a poetry book that’s all about self-help, or a life lesson that includes poetry. He suggests that people wrongly tend to focus on “judging others on black and white scales instead of living in the soft grey of acceptance,” and acceptance plays a major role in Professor of Pain. The word takes on many forms: acceptance of addiction, acceptance of others, and most importantly, acceptance of oneself.
The book is a unique blend of prose and poetry, the poetry having been inspired by the author’s personal experiences. Those life experiences have been intense. Earle was an addict (alcohol) and the problem repeated itself within his own family.
His personal journey is revealed in the prose, where the back story that inspired the poem is revealed – a refreshing and welcome technique. A nice progression occurs through the book’s four sections that include Terror of Addiction, Choose to Change, Choose to Heal, and Choose to Believe.
The book centers on addiction and recovery, so its overall appeal may be limited. It will definitely strike a stronger chord with those going through the process, either personally or by way of a loved one. But Earle rightfully says that everyone needs to recover or heal from something and he’s done his best to reach out to a wider audience without losing track of the core group who perhaps need the book the most.
Whether we have an addictive personality or not, many of us suffer from issues that are addressed in the book. “Tears of Mine” is a poem that looks at the “John Wayne Syndrome,” where men are so busy trying to be macho that they deny their need to feel, or to cry.
“Balloons and Clowns” is about not caring what others think of us, made all the more meaningful by the story leading into it. “Dance of Life” focuses on the wounded part of oneself responding to the condemning aspects most of us use against ourselves.
Some of the poems feel well-intentioned but a little forced or awkward in their attempt to share a lesson. But many are beautifully sweet and deeply thought-provoking. The book’s title stems from one the darker poems, about inviting the “Professor” (the teacher of lessons) to your pity party, and taking time to grieve or embrace your emotions in order to grow.
A few grammatical stumbles and technical problems keep the book from reaching its full potential, but it’s well on its way. Earle likens life to an empty bucket. “When we leave this life,” he says, “we only get to take two things – the love we received and the lessons we learned.” Professor of Pain helps readers reach awareness in both categories.