Anger can be an all consuming emotion. When I was very young, I don’t remember getting angry about much at all. About the time I got to my teens, anger was beginning to make inroads into my psychie. I was angry with bullies. I was the preverbial 60 lb. weakling and an easy target for any half-wit who felt he could improve his standing amoung the other half-wits by beating the crap out of me. I don’t remember being depressed over any of this, but I do remember getting angry. More-over I started to distrust authority. I wanted to defend myself, but was told that “violence only begets violence.” I should instead, “tell a teacher or the principle…”,…in other words, someone in authority. Yet when I did this…nothing happened. In fact, many times it led to an increase in the beatings. I became angry with authority.
I learned how to run back then. There were very few faster than me, especially among the bullies. By the time I got to high school, I was outrunning one of our star half-backs on the school’s first string, who regularly tormented me. He and I eventually worked out a truce after an especially embarrassing chase that left him covered head to toe in mud,…in front of his lovely girlfriend. But still I was angry.
I shouldn’t have to run.
By the end of high school, I was a little more refined in diplomacy and wasn’t running as much. But I was still angry. It seemed like I was angry all the time. My life was not my own, it was whatever someone else wanted it to be. Oh I resisted a lot of it, but always ended up succumbing to the will of someone else, because I was not self-sufficient. I could not feed nor house myself. I couldn’t defend myself. This left me angry.
I remember a job I had down at the local newspaper, in the mail room. You use an inserting machine to put flyers and leaflets into newspapers that are coming off the press. One night, the machines were particularly cantankerous and things were backing up in the mailroom. Our boss, Bruce, was moving from machine to machine (we had three) assisting with clearing jams and getting the machines moving again. Sometimes he had to slow a machine down, as the people who were operating it were not capable of running it at the speed they were trying to run it at. Most of us were young. A few oldsters were scattered around, but the machines were mainly run by young teens dripping with hormones and trying to prove things to one another. They resented being slowed down, taking it as a personal insult. Bruce just let their complaints run off of him like water off a ducks back. From time to time someone from upstairs would come down and see all the papers coming off the press being stacked in rows because the inserting machines were either down or running much slower than the big press. They would take Bruce aside, and though we couldn’t hear the conversation over the noise of the chaos, we could tell Bruce was getting reamed a new one. Yet Bruce never reacted to the rantings of his managers (and though he only really had one, many came downstairs thinking there were it). And when I say never, I mean I never, ever, saw him react with anything other than a smile and a “we’ll do the best we can” attitude. As I stood at my position, waiting for the machine to resume its monotonous and trouble filled lot in life, I reflected on Bruce. Man, would I love to be that Zen-like that I could just take it all in stride.
It would be a decade later before I started dealing with all this from a more positive standpoint. My anger almost cost me my marriage. Luckily, I resolved a few things about myself and have a wonderful wife who helped me through it.
Today, I would still like to be as Zen-like as Bruce. I think I am close, but a few things still push my buttons and a few of the manipulators, who fashioned my early understanding of life, still try to push those buttons, once in awhile.
A lot of anger comes from fear. After learning to defend myself, after becoming self-sufficient, after becoming debt-free and owing no-one anything, I have let go of most of my anger. It is quite peaceful and thought provoking. There are so many other things you can learn when you are not preoccupied with anger and fear.
Authority is an illusion. Someone who claims authority over you, only has that authority with your permission, “Consent of the governed” and all that. AS soon as you remove your permission, whatever authroity they had disappears.
Along these lines I want to reference Charley Reese’s column today. It was the major reason for my sojourne into the past. Charley gives us the Eleventh Commandment, “Thou Shall not Sweat it , Ace…”
“As the world gets crazier and crazier, perhaps a little Buddhist wisdom would help us all cope.
Buddhist monks, like Catholic priests, are supposed to be celibate. One day long ago, an older monk and a young monk were walking along a road toward their monastery. They came to a stream that had to be forded, and on the other side a beautiful young girl stood staring at the swirling water.
Without hesitation, the older monk waded across, picked up the girl and carried her through the water to the other side. Then the two monks resumed their journey, but the older monk noticed that his young companion was sulking.
“What’s wrong?” he finally asked.
“How could you do that?” the young monk said. “How could you pick up that young girl? How could you hold her in your arms?”
The older monk laughed. “I put her down a long time ago, but you’re still carrying her.”
One of the points of this story is to deal with the present situation, but then let it go. The same point is made in the wonderful novel “Zorba the Greek,” by Nikos Kazantzakis. A mob of superstitious villagers decides to murder a young widow because the people believe she has the evil eye and has caused the death of a young man. Zorba valiantly fights to save her life, but when he fails, he shrugs and goes home. The situation was over. The moment had passed. He let it go.”
Charley writes many a good article. I should link to him more often. He also understands that you don’t have to agree or comply with someone elses ideas…
“These days, I’m astounded to the point of laughter at how angry some people get simply because someone has an opinion they don’t agree with. Democrats made a stink about the Iraqi prime minister speaking to Congress because he had criticized Israel and not criticized Hezbollah. It was especially funny because the whole business in Iraq has been based on the Big Lie that we care about freedom and democracy. Well, freedom means a man can say he doesn’t like Israel if that’s his opinion. How does one man’s opinion affect another man’s life? It doesn’t, unless the second man allows it to.”
The rest of a wonderful article, here…
The State maintains its authority over you only with your permission. Let it go and find true freedom and happiness. Let go of your anger, too. Once the state has no authority over you, it can’t bully you around anymore. It will be in the past.
“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” – James Thurber