Some equate living a good life with living an easy life. This is a myth. We can’t live great lives—our best lives—without monumental loss.

The hardships we endure steer us onto different paths, scenic and arduous treks we’d never make had life been comfortable. If we didn’t experience that devastation—whether it be the passing of loved ones, health crises, financial hardships, abuse—our mettle never would have been tested, our hidden strengths never detected.

My 20-year-self planned small and plotted a conventional existence. I’d never dreamt the wide-open life I now lead as I approach 60. But to get here, I scaled sheer cliffs to escape despair. Each time I summited, I had marveled at how far I’ve come.

This I remember as I look up from the chasm I find myself in. And, I gain inspiration from knowing that I’ve pulled myself out repeatedly in the past. That I’m capable of not only surviving, but also thriving through the longest, darkest night.

Yes, I’ll take the struggles over an existence of ease, for I wouldn’t have the richness of knowing myself as well as I do and the strength to pursue my own wild, unique life.