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Calm • Serenity

Returning Anger to Where It Belongs

Who – really – is the car in front that dawdles provocatively; who is the receptionist who pretends not to have your booking; who is the air-conditioning unit that emits the high pitched clicking sound; who is the printer that has jammed minutes before the meeting; who is the waiter who gives you the table by the rancid toilet; who are the trousers with the stain that’s appeared from nowhere; who is the bank that needs a password you lost to make a transfer you resent; who is everyone attempting to foil, frustrate and humiliate you as you make your way through a broken, resistant, demeaning world?

Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash

At one level, these are – of course – enemies who know so much about you and have carefully reached a view that you must pay for your heinousness. But more soberly and sadly, they are a far narrower range of characters whose impact on you you have never had the calm and love to face. 

When you feel low and persecuted, when you are in a rage and beset by humiliation, the insults appear to come from everywhere. But the true causes of the distemper lie within; with a father who never listened, a mother who mocked, a grandmother who died at the worst moment, a lover who wasn’t interested, a school that didn’t give a damn and friends who never came. This is why our rage is so intense in the taxi and at the airport desk, with the bank and the plumber; we are screaming at episodes of callousness and abandonment that we haven’t begun to locate or chart; that we can’t understand and whose shadow we have no clue how to evade.

Yet if we are to have any chance of not hurting ourselves further, we will have to break the subterranean connection – and unplug our wounded rage from a busy and mostly innocent present.

None of these people and things are what we believe. The car ahead is – mainly – just the car ahead. Its driver doesn’t know your history, its owner can’t have any sense of how crushed you were made to feel back then, they don’t know how you were spoken to and with what cruelty you were handled, they have no desire to add to your wounds and no memory of how you were taunted. Just as the receptionist didn’t spot – as you walked into the lobby – someone whose parent greeted their arrival on earth with disgust, nor did the drawer fail to open to rub salt into your wounds, nor was the train delayed to send you yet another reminder of your foulness.

Frustrating things will occur every day. When we can stand to know what really hurt us, few of them will ever need to make us furious.

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