Life Is Larger Than Pain …

Life is both storm and calm, and the challenge of living is how to use the calm to endure the storm, not bypass it. It is important to note that the only true place of calm in the storm is the very center. So the only thing to do, once in the storm, is to make our way to the center of it, hard as that might seem.
— Mark Nepo from Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred

It was a sweet slow day in June that an oriole came to our feeder.  It only comes once a year. And just at that moment, as my heart widened to see the beautiful bird, my stomach gripped me in a contraction of pain. And there I was – expanding and contracting at the same time, in my own moment of choosing between everything and nothing. It was my next appearance of the exquisite risk: the risk to be here, to stay here, to not shut down. For the pain was real and so was the oriole in the sun. It was an added pain to think I had choose between them. The oriole remained beautiful as it ate in the sun, and I was beautiful as I leaned over in my pain. And so I endured and endeared for keeping feeling both. That moment taught me that, as real as my pain is in any given moment, when I can accept that life is larger than that pain, then I can let in that larger field of life-force which will help me endure.
— Mark Nepo from Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
—  Vacla Havel (as quoted in Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What Is Sacred)

There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
― Wendell Berry from Standing by Words