Cover image for Beautiful work : a meditation on pain
Beautiful work : a meditation on pain
Cameron, Sharon.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Durham [N.C.] : Duke University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
vi, 121 pages ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BQ944.M47 A3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The stories one tells about pain are profound ones. Nothing is more legible than these stories. But something is left out of them. If there were no stories, there might be a moment of innocence. A moment before the burden of the stories and their perceived causes and consequences. For Anna, the narrator of Beautiful Work , there were moments when it was not accurate to say in relation to pain "because of this," or "leading to that." They were lucid moments. And so she began to hunger for storylessness.
In order to understand the nature of pain, Anna undertakes a meditation practice. We tend to think of pain as self-absorbing and exclusively our own ("my pain," "I am in pain"). In distinction, Sharon Cameron's Anna comes to explore pain as common property, and as the basis for a radically reconceived selfhood. Resisting the limitations of memoir, Beautiful Work speaks from experience and simultaneously releases it from the closed shell of personal ownership. Outside of the not quite inevitable stories we tell about it, experience is less protected, less compromised, and more vivid than could be supposed.
Beautiful Work brings to bear the same interest in consciousness and intersubjectivity that characterizes Cameron's other work.

Author Notes

Sharon Cameron was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She started out working several different jobs such as: a classical piano teacher, part-time genealogist, chair of a non-profit for a local theater group and a coordinator of the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrator's Midsouth Conference. She soon found her passion for writing and now writes full-time. She made The New York Times Best Seller's List in 2016 with her title, "The Forgetting".

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

One of the greatest discoveries of the Buddha was that pain is inevitable but suffering is not. He was referring to the fact that one's emotional reaction is what causes anguish, not the physical sensation of pain itself. This insight is by no means easy to attain and the intense journey and struggle to that knowledge is the subject of this short but powerful book, which describes a series of three meditation retreats during which Cameron (English, Johns Hopkins Univ.) tried to understand the inexplicable nature of pain and free herself from it. The author describes her dreams, memories, and the moment-to-moment experience of breathing and walking--all laced with pain. Only when she is able to feel the physical sensations without reacting does a deeper understanding shine through. A worthy challenge to the typical love song to meditation, this volume will be useful in graduate, research, and professional libraries and in large general collections. R. Kabatznick; CUNY Queens College