This past week I was in touch with friends who faced an unexpected turn in their life’s path. One of them, a survivor of a previous severe cancer, confronts a newly discovered and different form of the disease. The second friend battled a blaze that could have dealt his small family business a damaging blow.

My heart goes out to each of them. Having lived through a couple of life altering challenges of my own, I am aware of the depths of darkness that can accompany the initial news. I have also known the light of new life that is possible from their lessons.

With synchronous pull this week I was drawn into David Whyte’s entry on Disappointment in his book Consolations. While many of us think of disappointments as frustrating interruptions in the day’s trajectory, his use of the word focuses on our life threatening and life opening distresses.

Our attitude toward our circumstances and our effort are the only dynamics we control, and the choices we make facing our travails define who we are. May these words from David Whyte bolster each of us in confronting our disappointments.

Disappointment is inescapable but necessary…a friend to transformation, a call to both accuracy and generosity in the assessment of our self and others, a test of sincerity and a catalyst of resilience.

 Disappointment is just the initial meeting with the frontier of an evolving life, an invitation to reality, which we expected to be one particular way and turns out to be another, often something more difficult, more overwhelming and strangely, in the end, more rewarding.