You Must Burn to Shine

Pain is the fuel required for shining bright. One does not exist without the other.

“What is to give light must endure burning.” — Victor Frankl

One who refuses the gift of suffering, lacks wisdom and compassion. Only through wisdom and compassion does one shine bright.

Life is full of pain for human beings. It is both blessing and curse, a balance and a bridge to understanding. How does one fully appreciate beauty and light without experiencing the utter lack of it? How does one grow without trial?

“There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way.” [Libba Bray]

We are born soft and ignorant. Life’s experiences harden the body and sharpen the mind over many moons. Pain is the instructor we love to hate, but the wise among us learn to respect its teachings.

The path to greatness for every hero runs through the crucible, a test of character and ability from which one is broken and then built anew. The more difficult the path, the greater the outcome. “Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men.” [Seneca]

The sweetest songs often come from the saddest experiences. Sadness provides a rich flavor profile from which sweetness can be celebrated. One without the other is flat, uninteresting and unenlightening.

The greatest works test the creator before they can be created. Years of pain and suffering go into every book, painting and work of art. One may witness the expert creator perform effortlessly, but the ability to do so comes at great cost unwitnessed.

To wit, the wisdom of John Milton:

“Is it true, O Christ in heaven, that the highest suffer the most?
That the strongest wander furthest and most hopelessly are lost?
That the mark of rank in nature is capacity for pain?
That the anguish of the singer makes the sweetness of the strain?”

Do not feel less for the pain you suffer. Pain is the crucible of your hero’s journey, within which you must burn to shine.