The worst kind of pain comes for no apparent reason, with no explanation of where it comes from or what it means. All of us require meaning; we need to grasp why something is happening. Suffering that comes for no apparent reason can be called the pain of meaninglessness. When you are faced with this kind of despair, you can become nihilistic, feeling that nothing ultimately matters. Or you might lose interest in living and loving, and retreat into a shell.

A different way of responding to the pain of meaninglessness is to realize that it has come into your life so that you can face and look more deeply into the true significance of your time here on Earth.

All pain and suffering arise to demand that you pay attention. You may have been pushing yourself too much, living foolishly for too long. Stop and listen, the pain is saying; it is asking you to take a good look at what's going on. Chances are you have never learned to stop and pay attention, respect what you're feeling, give it time and space in your life. When you begin to do this, however, your pain does not turn into suffering. You are pulling the poison arrow out.

Brenda Shoshanna in Fearless