These words are from the song “Fortress Around Your Heart” by Sting:
As I returned across the lands I’d known
I recognized the fields where I’d once played
I had to stop in my tracks for fear
Of walking on the mines I’d laid
This is a song about relationships. In relationships, we often do or say things–or fail to do or say things–and other people can take offense or feel hurt by the things that we do or fail to do. These things we do can cause our relationships to deteriorate so much that we don’t want to be around each other anymore. The hurtful and selfish things we do are like mines that we lay in the hearts and minds of others. We are often afraid to rebuild or restore a relationship because of these mines that we have laid. The mines could explode in our faces when the other person returns the hurt that we have given him or her. So, because we are afraid, we build walls of silence or distance to keep other people out.
This is from the same song:
And if I have built this fortress around your heart
Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
Then let me build a bridge
For I cannot fill the chasm
And let me set the battlements on fire
In this part of the song, one person wants to restore the relationship. The “fortress around your heart” represents the walls between people. The “battlements” are the defenses that people build to protect themselves from each other. “Let me build a bridge” is an attempt to cross the field of mines and rebuild the lost relationship.
In this world, we are strangers to most people, and we are close to very few, if any, people. What if you found out that you could not find happiness unless you made peace with everyone in the world? Would happiness be worth the effort? Would you be willing to forgive your enemies, that is, would you be willing to overlook or ignore all of the perceived wrongs that you think have been committed against you? The book A Course in Miracles asks, “Do you prefer that you be right or happy?” If we claim that we must be right about how others have hurt us, and that others deserve to be punished or shunned, then we will never find happiness. However, happiness is possible once we release all of our resentment and hold nothing against other people. (By the way, the author of this essay is not completely happy yet, either.) Happiness is within our power, but are we willing to do what happiness requires?
As in the game “Minesweeper,” we can play the game over and over again until we “win” it. We cannot fail, in the long run, to clear all of the mines of hurt and resentment that we have placed in the world. It is too painful to keep resentment or hold grudges forever, and we will eventually give them up. In the present, we fear retribution or repayment for what we think we have done wrong. This fear is merely the fear of our own shadow. We fear that what we have done to others will be done to us, and this is true because there is no “other” person and what we do to “others” we do to ourselves. Imagine how we would feel if we forgave everyone completely and thus received complete, unconditional forgiveness for ourselves!