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A Toast to Pain: Our Most Valuable Teacher

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This bottle of fine Irish whiskey was gifted to me by a friend, who thought of me immediately upon reading the label.

When asked about my process for creation, I‘m fond of quipping, “If you want to make great art, first get good and truly miserable.”

Admittedly, I cleave perhaps a little too strongly to my tortured genius narrative, but it’s proven true for me.

My masochism and Hemingway fetish notwithstanding, I DO believe there’s something to be gleaned from the resigned moribundity of the melancholic writer archetype:

EVERYONE can learn something from misery and use it to create.

There’s a maxim that states, “Age is the price of wisdom.” The implication being that to grow older is to grow wiser. That’s not really true. It only SEEMS true.

The price of wisdom is not age. It’s pain.

We don’t grow wiser because we get old. We grow wiser because we get hurt.

A child touches a hot stove only once, but the lesson remains forever: it is not the child’s age that teaches the lesson, but the pain of it.

Growing older provides more time and opportunity to get hurt—and thereby accrue greater wisdom, by default.

That wisdom—hard-won, hard-earned, bought and paid for in blood and tears—is what comes out when we create. There is deep wisdom in all art, even the silliest of things; for in folly lay wisdom of a different kind.

Whatever it is we are moved to create, we do so guided by wisdom and instructed by pain.

Pain is the great leveler. No matter who we are or where in our life we may be, the advancement of our individual human experience requires that we can and will be hurt on the way to our new phase.

And we spend so much time and energy trying to avoid that. To forget it. To ignore it.

But in doing so we overlook that pain is our most valuable teacher.

All of the lessons I have learned to become the person I am have come at great expense. They’ve been difficult, and I’ve done my best to bear well the scars and honor them by learning as much as I can.

And everyday I learn a little bit more—so grow a bit wiser.

A TOAST, then! To pain, the great mentor to us all.

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

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