This Has Happened Before

One of the reasons our problems—or accomplishments—can seem like such a big deal is that we mistakenly assume that they are somehow new or special. This could not be further from the truth. Even as unique as you are, as whatever you’re dealing with seems, someone else has almost certainly dealt with the equivalent of it—they had the same or equally baffling illness, they’ve felt the same surreal but fortunate feeling of “What do I have left to conquer?”, they have shaken their head (or bent it down to weep) after the same unreal run of bad luck.

Marcus would remind himself—no matter how absurd or amazing or frustrating his life would get—”that all of this has happened before.” “It will happen again,” he said, “the same plot from beginning to end, the identical staging.” He would envision the courts of his predecessors, of their predecessors and rivals—Alexander, Hadrian, Croesus. What did he see? That they were all the same, with the same things happening. Only the people were different.

This is something we have to remember when we get overwhelmed or puffed up. That none of this is new. All of this is running according to a tired script as old as time. Don’t let it go to your head. Don’t let it get to you. You’re just an actor playing a role. And soon enough they’ll be producing a remake of it and you won’t even be around to be in it.

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