My husband’s favorite author is Jim Butcher. He is an urban fantasy writer, so not my thing at all. Butcher has a couple of series and my husband has read them all, several times. He even got my oldest to read both series. His favorite series by Jim Butcher is called the Dresden Files. From his description, this is sort of a grittier, adult Harry Potter. He will probably not like that comparison (even though he liked Harry Potter too), but it is about as close as I am going to get. He shared a passage from one of the Dresden Files books, White Night, with me about pain. And even though this is from a fantasy book, with wizards and vampires and stuff, I thought this was a fantastic lesson and beautifully written. So I am going to share this with you.
[G]rowing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something.
Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point, you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind – graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens.
And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realized that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last – and yet will remain with you for life.
Everyone is down on pain because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it.
Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.
Jim Butcher, White Night