Our disappointment, our emptiness, our loneliness, our grief, our fear — each is a friend in disguise, with infinite patience and confidence in our ability to understand ourselves and be free. Pain isn’t failure, it’s a perfect remedy. And, like the true friend it is, it always arrives at the right time, when it’s most surely needed. The wealth and beauty of life is never hidden. It is we who are in hiding. But hide as we will, our pain knows where we are. Drugs, alcohol, work, and all of the other time-honored forms of distraction might bring temporary relief. They might even kill us. Or we might kill ourselves. Quickly or slowly, it amounts to the same. But to delve into our pain — to embrace it, to love it, to sit with it and ask it what it’s trying to reveal — is an act of courage, grace, and humanity. It is an act far more powerful than the things we run from and rail against. To put it another way, how can we expect our lives to flower if we aren’t willing to accept everything love has to offer? How can we live to our potential and be a positive force in this world if we aren’t willing to examine, each according to our own lights and experiences, that which makes us uncomfortable or miserable? And so I ask, shall we run to our graves, or go singing? Shall we pronounce judgment on what we think are the shortcomings of others, or rejoice that they too are tormented by these divine messengers and angels?