After the first time, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much. I know it’s sort of grim to say, but you really do acclimate to it. After as many times as I’ve done it, well, not to brag, but it barely feels like anything at all. It’s true what they say about not being able to actually remember pain.
One minute you’re just a guy cruising along at twice the legal speed limit on a wide open highway in the snow, and the next you’re opening your eyes for the very first time, screaming because the world is so cold and bright. The transition is so quick and seamless that you forget all the horrible pain and panic of the crash that took you from that world. All you know is the horrible pain and panic of being brought into your new one. And, of course, if you haven’t found the way to maintain your memory across it all, like most people, then you truly won’t remember anything before it. Even the less, let’s say, “quick and easy” departures will be forgotten the instant they’re over, becoming nothing more than vague memories that you can tell your journal about later. Well, once you’ve learned how to write again, that is.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Listen, even though you conceptually remember how to do things like writing and bike riding and dancing and pole vaulting and flying helicopters, it’s a whole new body, and that means all new rules. It’s one of the first things you realize after you figure out what’s going on and manage to hang onto your consciousness between departures and arrivals. People think we all work the same, but that’s not true, not at all. We all experience the world in utterly unique ways. Sure, we’re seeing the same objects and smelling the same smells, but every brain is interpreting them in its own special way. It’s honestly kind of mind-blowing that the college freshman sitting on his couch after smoking weed for the first time kind of actually is onto something when he asks his friend, “Hey, how do we know that the color I call red is really the same color you see that you call red?” Of course, he’s an idiot, because they are objectively both the same wavelength of light that we call Red, but at the same time he’s so close to the truth.
Everyone feels different, too. Raising your left arm in ten different bodies feels ten different ways and takes ten different thoughts to drive it to work. It’s kind of obvious when you think about it, not everyone is as naturally capable at different physical tasks as everyone else, so why would we assume that we all work the same from in the inside? This body can’t dance for shit, but you wouldn’t believe what I got up to my last time around.
It’s hard to explain if you can’t remember the differences yourself; you’ve got nothing to compare it to. But don’t worry, you’ll get it soon enough.
I’m going to teach you how to hold on.