A Toast to Pain: Our Most Valuable Teacher

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

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

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 every day I learn a little bit more—so grow a bit wiser.

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

"I dislike writing; I love having written." Nothing counts until it's done. I'll teach you to finish.
Sign up for weekly tips on improving the quality of your writing, increasing productivity, and creating content that generates income.

About The Author
John Romaniello is an author, consultant, and coach who helps people and brands find their voice through writing. He's published hundreds of articles, dozens of courses, and one New York Times bestselling book. Might wanna check out his Instagram, he's pretty easy on the eyes.