Friday, April 22, 2011

Stripping My Gears

Okay, I'll fess up.  I was pretty angry about some things when I blogged last night, but I was trying not to be.  Or to at least channel my thoughts in a different direction.

I don't know whether I'm less angry this morning, or more.

I had another unexpected brush with the crazies over the past week.

This is very frustrating to me.  But I think of what the Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Or Winston Churchill's comment, "A man is about as big as the things that make him angry."

A Chinese proverb says, "“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” 

But I'm starting to feel like that needs to be seriously revised, because I've been patient in about a million moments of anger over the past year and I don't seem to have escaped much in the way of sorrow. 

It's been going on for a year now. That's why I'm frustrated.  

You want to think well of people.  It's frustrating when you simply can't.  It's even more frustrating when they simply won't leave you alone so that you don't ever have to think about them at all.    

At the end of the day, it's the incredible sneakiness of it all that really gets me down. 

Maya Angelou has said, "Bitterness is like cancer.  It eats upon the host.  But anger is like fire.  It burns it all clean."  

I've clearly had the misfortune to stumble upon some very bitter-- and ultimately very unhappy-- people.  So maybe I need the cleansing force of anger. 

Mark Twain once wrote, "When angry, count to four.  When very angry, swear."

So maybe we should add, "When very, very angry, blog?"

But I worry that it would be too much like putting my words and actions at the mercy of someone else's.  And when someone's words and actions strike me as petty and cowardly, I don't want to follow suit, no matter how good it might feel to just slash and burn.

Because even a cleansing anger still burns.  Although you might not notice the pain or the damage in the heat of the moment, you will later on.

The writer Barbara Johnson once said, "“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.”

So when I feel like stripping my gears over this, I tell myself to imagine that I'm in a room with all of these people and that someone with no connection to any of us is simply stating the facts.  

The truth is finally being told.   

Would I be embarrassed or ashamed of what's being said?  Or would I feel like, yes, that's right?  Would I be able to nod and say, yes, that's what happened, that's what I've said, and that's the part I've played in all of this?

Would I still be able to sit up straight and look everyone else in the eye?

Right now, I can.  

I won't let anger change that.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."