“Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic?”

As part of my reset month, I’ve been reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. One of my many (many) ebook highlights so far is this one:

“Do you take pride in your hurt?” Samuel asked. “Does it make you seem large and tragic?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, think about it. Maybe you’re playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Ooooof. That one hurts. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes (and I do love a good quote):

Why should we feel anger at the world? As if the world would notice.

Marcus Aurelius

On a recent episode of our podcast, I was rambling about how at the end of a hard day, I’m grumpy. And I know I could choose to stop being grumpy, but that grumpiness feels deserved. It makes me feel “large and tragic.”

Then our guest Nadia pointed out (at the 43:50 timestamp) that I’m treating grumpiness as my reward. And the great thing about rewards is that there are others to choose from.

Marcus Aurelius is right; the world doesn’t notice that I’m mad at it. I’m the only audience for that tragedy. As my friend Jace likes to say: “nobody cares, work harder.”

And sure, “a hard day” isn’t anywhere near the scale of hurt that lots of people are dealing with. I’ve dealt with some of those types of hurt too. And I took pride in my hurt, and I felt large and tragic. I was furious with the world. In some ways I still am, years later. Wanna guess how much good it’s done me?

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