There’s a great lyric in the bridge of the new Bruce Springsteen song, Tucson Train:
We fought hard over nothin'We fought till nothin' remainedI've carried that nothin' for a long time
Doesn’t that just perfectly capture—in such a sad and telling way—many of our relationships and grudges? We turn nothing into something and then hold onto it like it’s everything until there’s nothing left. Then we wonder why we’re unhappy. We wonder why we’re lonely. We wonder where people we used to love have gone. We wonder where the good times went. The answer: We drove them away. We ground them into dust.
Marcus Aurelius struggled with this, too. He had a problem like we all do with anger and taking offense and getting into arguments and needing to prove people wrong. If he hadn’t, he would have never had to write this little reminder in Meditations.
“Run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something: the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever: Where is all that now? Smoke, dust, legend…or not even a legend. Think of all the examples. And how trivial the things we want so passionately are.”
It’s heartbreaking. It’s true. And all of us are guilty of it in our own way. What are we fighting about? Why do we so passionately need to be right? Why can’t we just let things go?
If only we could change…