Anger and me

29 Nov

Most people regard anger as a negative emotion, something that is “bad” and should be repressed or somehow addressed and banished from one’s life.  I’m not so sure about that.

I think anger is a normal and natural emotion too.  We have the option of anger just as we have the option of joy, and both are important to defining us as people and even furthering our journey towards spiritual enlightenment.

Yeah, I still have illusions of someday becoming a wise woman and achieving spiritual enlightenment.  I’ve also learned something else along the way.

Beware those who claim to have achieved spiritual enlightenment.  They rarely have a clue what it is really about, and have used their “achievement” as an excuse to cease their pursuit of enlightenment.  Truly enlightened souls are eternally seeking to continue the process and never regard themselves as having achieved their goal.

With that said…we’ll go back to anger.  I’m not certain that anger is going to actually further my journey towards spiritual enlightenment directly, but how can we recognize light if we’ve never experienced darkness?

Anger…is a natural product of being human.  It’s the tool we use to fuel ourselves to breaking through obstacles, whether it’s obstacles on the Road to Truth or the Road to Rome.  We use it more to achieve very physical goals, as part of our very human natures.  Without anger, we can easily drift towards apathy, and begin the process of stagnation and degeneration.

Apparently, I’m in no danger of stagnation or degeneration.

I’m angry.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I’d walk out onto the desert, pick up rocks and proceed to stone and curse a perfectly innocent four winged saltbush as a way of venting my anger.  The bush survived the experience unscathed.  They are hardy plants of the Colorado plateau, able to withstand fire, flood, or my pathetic stoning and cursing.  I’d feel better, I’d hurt no one’s feelings, and I could get on with getting on.  I was younger, more volatile, and just more passionate about everything.  I also had a lot more energy and youth.

These days, I’m running out of “youth” entirely.  My hair is silver.  I have wrinkles.  I have aches and pains…a lot.  My teeth are going bad.  My eyesight is failing me.  My body refuses to obey my brain’s commands.

I notice the scathing looks from young women, still caught in the grasp of youth and enjoying the beauty of that form.  I secretly grin, for it doesn’t seem that long ago, I was among their numbers.  I was just as vain about my appearance and physical abilities.  They pity me now, but in a few decades, they will be like me.

A young woman locked inside of a body that is lumpy, frumpy, graying, and disobeying.  They’ll wonder what in the hell happened too.

Getting past the vanity and pride of a beautiful appearance is probably a good thing, enabling us to shift our focus to more important things.  The real downside is that our brains are finally achieving a bit of knowledge, just as our bodies begin to fail.  All of the skills that I spent a lifetime honing are now uselessly locked inside of a brain that lacks the body to illustrate.  It sucks.  It ticks me off.  It fuels the anger too.

I remember being young and disliking old grumpy people.  I now am beginning to understand why there are old grumpy people.  It hurts to get old, and I’m not talking about pride.  I’m talking about residing inside of a body that has worked hard, been hurt, been sick, been injured, and is wearing out.  There is a lot more pain involved in the process than I ever anticipated.  I used to think that old people complained because they didn’t have anything else to do.

It’s hard not to complain and gripe when your entire world starts to become defined by pain.

It’s hard to not become self centered when you are trying to plan anything around using that body that is all too often wracked by pain.    It’s hard to not be angry, at yourself and the world, when you realize that your pain is nothing compared to someone who is enduring the mortal pain of a terminal condition, and yet you are unable to conquer it.

Once upon a time, I could conquer anything.  Literally.  I could out walk, out talk, out endure, and probably out drink most of the other people of the world.  I can’t even remember the last time I had an alcoholic beverage these days, let alone the last time I spent the evening in a bar.  No one would associate the term “party  animal” with the person I am today, and the concept of out-all-night doesn’t even exist in my world anymore.  I’m not even that social anymore.  My idea of a good party is a half dozen people and a big pot of coffee now.

I guess what makes me angriest is the reality that I have been forced to give up the things I enjoy the most, the things I was the most passionate about.  Accepting that I’ll never do them again is still impossible, yet the logical part of my brain keeps trying to do that to the rest of my brain.  I’m really not that old, and if it hadn’t been for an unfortunate twist of fate, that wouldn’t have been the case for me for another decade or two.

Sometimes, I wonder about going back in time, and avoiding that brief incident that has had such terrible consequences in my life.  Where would I be now?  What would I be doing?  How would I feel?  Would I be the same person?

The sad truth is that maybe the Cosmos decided I needed some hard lessons, for whatever reason, because I wouldn’t be the same person.  In some ways, I’d have had more patience and greater abilities, but in others, I would not have learned about true endurance, true patience, and even a little bit about a state of angry serenity.

Angry serenity.  Strange contradiction of terms, isn’t it?

I sort of see it like kicking a tree, jamming your toe really hard, then sitting and meditating on the universe as your toe continues to throb until the throbbing is gone.

It’s also making me figure out new ways to accomplish things.  It’s forced me to learn how to let others do things for me, how to ask for help, and how to wait until someone can help me.  For someone who was always fiercely independent, that’s a hard lesson to learn.

Once upon a time, tired of waiting for other people to make time to go hiking and camping, I’d take off on my own with the tent for the weekend.  I set up the tent alone, I cooked alone, I hiked alone, and I got used to a solitary life.  I finally relented to concerns from family and friends about my solitary nature, and got a dog, which is how Red Dog came into my life.  I used to make jokes about how she had replaced my first husband, as she wasn’t as hairy, was always glad to see me, never complained about dinner, and never got into the bank account.  She has been a great companion for me, even as she moves into old age doggy style.

These days, I have a loving companion and husband.  The husband title is still bright and new and shiny, even if our relationship is as comfortable as a favorite pair of jeans.  It’s hard to be angry when you have someone who can take your hand and show you both the humor and the beauty that surrounds us.

That’s the whole thing, anger can be the fuel to start the motion, but somewhere along the way, we’ve got to leaven that anger with humor to make it lighter and easier to carry.  Then, we add a dash of appreciation for the many things we have to be grateful for, and that load gets lighter yet.  The dollop of serenity that comes along when we least expect it makes the load easier yet.

I hear a rumor that when we get a big dollop of wisdom, I’ll scarcely notice the weight of the anger.  I can’t wait, but I have to anyhow.

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