Anger

That’s funny. This is the one day of this month that is perfect for photographing the full moon, because the sky lightens just as the moon is setting. So my dog and I packed up the gear into the car, and just as we set off the rain began to fall. Funny. I was meditating on anger at the time, specifically how I respond to other people’s anger, and trying to think of a name of someone — I know so many people who are angry all the time. The generations express it differently. There are the morose (that’s me) and then the chipper (I would die of exhaustion), and now we have the hype/hip/hop generation. Among these new generations, if you just relax and enjoy they think you are angry. They require constant reassurance. I don’t know how they can stand the strain, but I do know it’s not nearly as much fun as relaxing back into one’s self and looking around at the world with a modicum of compassion rather than an imperative rooted in someone’s never-ending, unfocused anger that spills out over everything and washes away the opportunities that have been there all along to fix whatever you are angry about.

So I was driving along, trying to think of a name of someone I don’t know to use in the opening example of this little tale of woe, and into my head popped Sam. I do not know anyone named Sam.

Or do I?

Wait – I think Sam was my grandfather, wasn’t he? A master of the art. It’s funny, what enlightenments your subconscious will burble up if you let it.

Being a master of the art of aggression is not funny, however; it’s a good way to ruin your own life with no help from anyone else. I know, because I was even better at it than Sam was. He had no subtlety, and would resort to fists if necessary, or so I am told, and everyone knows the damage that can do. We women can do a much more effective job; but the price we pay for the control it gives us is that we mostly beat up on ourselves. We do not see the options that are available to us to escape whatever is making us angry. When I figured this out I was a kid in a candy shop gobbling up the world of opportunities I had never seen. Moderation is better, I finally discovered, but that’s another story.

And I would never on this earth have figured all this out through the “compassion” of other people, although compassion abounds and a lot of it came my way. Or as the Christians call it “love.” For two reasons. First, I had never experienced the feeling of compassion and didn’t know it existed so I didn’t see it when it came my way. Second, when I finally did run across it in my later years, it was usually a surface thing without real feeling, not believable because the people who were peddling it were obviously trying to sell things. To sell cars; to sell one’s self to other people; to sell “Christianity.” Selling things is not compassion. Or love. My real anger was a more satisfying emotion than their fake love.

The only way I did figure this out — the only way I possibly could have — was first to see compassion manifested in small but real ways, most of them small tragedies of my own making. They were not small to me; the pain I was trying so hard to not cause others. They brought the lessons home. And then to finally recognize passive aggression in myself and track it — logically and unemotionally.

Passive-aggressive is a way to control people who can not get away, usually because they don’t want to go away, but also if they have been victimized. I guess people in prison learn to hide away inside their heads. I guess some people commit suicide. When I was a child I would go out in the barn and curl up in the hay with a good book, as did my mother in her own way. I still get the willies when I sense the old silent rage emanating from someone in my circle. Someone won’t talk; someone won’t answer questions; someone begins to re-interpret my every innocent or clumsy act into her frame of anger; there is some invisible unspoken need to which I am expected to respond. “Oh, no,” I think. “Now what have I don’t wrong?” Nothing, usually, but I am well trained and easily controlled. Or — not really, because then I go away.

July09.DSC_8048-Blog091004Damn. It turns out we can’t control other people anyhow and we have wasted the glory of our God-given chance at life abusing ourselves in the effort. If it’s someone I care about or a stranger in an elevator, we both have lost another opportunity for getting what we all want, and we all want the same things.

Other people’s rage — or our own — it’s not one of them. Maybe that’s why Americans are so unaccountably afraid of each other — afraid even to talk with each other below the surface niceties. And that’s funny, but not hahah funny, because we really are among the nicest people in the world, and the most creative, we have some very important problems to solve together, and we are afraid of words.

Meditate on that for a few months, compassionately, and see if you don’t find a better life for yourself.

You can thank me after you get over being mad.

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