An Examination Of Anger
An Examination Of Anger
“Ultimately, if I am enraged, it doesn’t hurt the other human as much as it hurts me.”
What is anger? To some it is just an emotion; to some it is an excess of energy running through the body; to some it is fuel to add to the fire of productivity, and to others it is the only emotion. I’m no stranger to the heat of anger; I once believed that I was born evil, that I contained all the world’s anger, but now I’ve realized my boy Borrelia burgdorferi had eaten away at so many of my neurons that anger is often the only way my brain is capable of dealing with the world around me.
The way my brain attempts to work is as follows: I can be in a great mood, feeling as though the Universe Herself is sat in the palm of my hand, and then some insignificant little thing will happen. A rude human will say something stupid, or I’ll fail at doing something one too many times, or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night prior, or maybe my left shoe is tied just a little bit tighter than the right one; the point is, I can go from an angel to a pseudo-murderous asshole in zero seconds flat; it’s out of my control, and it weighs on me quite heavily.
Lately I’ve been searching for answers, or at the very least for help in controlling this seemingly unavoidable cycle of rage to remorse, and I stumbled upon a video of a short talk given by a man carrying the name Abraham Twerski. He, in this talk, breaks the cycle of anger down into three parts: the feeling, the reaction, and the gripping of the feeling after it would have normally passed. Me, being myself, found these ideas to be very profound, so I decided to write out a meditation based on the ideas.
Here we go.
The first stage of anger is feeling the literal feeling of anger – in his talk, Twerski appropriately names this stage Anger. In our hearts, human beings are wild animals; we’re hairless apes who, in my opinion, spend our entire lives attempting to hide this plain and simple fact not only from each other, but from ourselves, and we don’t do a very good job of it at all. When we get provoked, we feel a primal, animalistic anger, and no matter how hard we try to cover it up, to push it down into the depths of our subconscious, it shows. There’s really nothing we can do about this, either; if you’re out there doing your thing, whatever your thing may be, and someone gets in your way somehow, you’re going to feel some type of animosity towards them.
Feeling anger, feeling that natural human reaction when an especially high-piled platter of bullshit is shoved in your face, that is unavoidable. However, you can make moves to get your brain to not pump the anger chemicals through your system, one method being taking things into perspective.
Twerski uses a lesson taught to him by his father to explain how to accomplish this goal; when someone did something that made him mad, his father would simply say, “What he did was so foolish, if only he knew how foolish it was what he did, he wouldn’t have done it. I feel sorry for the human for being such a fool.” This statement, when you actually realize it from thought into action, transforms your anger into pity, into sorrow for your fellow human being.
Pity and anger don’t quite occupy the same end of the emotional spectrum, and they certainly don’t go together. How can you be mad at a human for whom you feel sorrow? You can’t; when it really comes down to it, you can either hate the human for being a stupid prick, or you can feel bad for them for having to live with such a closed mind. For me, just saying to myself how bad I feel for the inspiration of my anger at the given moment doesn’t quite cut it; I usually need to sit and meditate or run a few miles for the anger to truly fade, but honestly? At the end of the day, everyone is different, and living with anger in your soul can only bring you pain. Do what you have to do to let it go.
The second stage is called Rage, how one reacts to feeling all that anger. Plain and simply, one must do their very best to control that reaction, the end goal being not allowing your reaction to affect the environment around you, humans, objects, or otherwise. Admittedly, I am now a lot better at controlling my rage than I used to be; I’ve punched a few holes in my walls, blown up on friends, burned bridges, the whole nine yards. I don’t do these things anymore – the worst I do now is raise my voice to levels in which I feel pain in my throat – but I’m still learning to control. Rage is just part of the human experience, part of being a living creature on the planet dubbed Earth, even.
I had a cat (read: adopted son) named Milkshake who harbored quite a temper too, when he put his mind to it. Usually I could pick him up and toss him around a bit in a playful fashion and it would be fine, we’d have fun. But, when there were too many loud noises going on or when he hadn’t had enough to eat or didn’t get enough sleep, or sometimes when he just wasn’t in the mood, he got angry. And he reacted with rage, the rage of very sharp teeth and claws piercing into flesh; the little bugger did some real damage, let me tell you.
The thing is, though, Milkshake (as far as I could tell) didn’t have the mental capacity to control his rage; he had no choice but to react. Well, I thought that, until I caught the dude opening the door to the closet where we kept his food. Regardless, we are humans, we have one of the most evolutionarily advanced brains in Existence, as far as we can tell; we are capable of controlling our reactions and emotions in the moment, and for that sole reason, we must. Gaining this control is not something that happens overnight, over the course of weeks or even months, but over the course of years, in some cases over the course of a lifetime; it’s one of the most tenuous things a human can do.
That being said, just because something is hard to do does NOT mean one should not do it. If anything, that should be a hint telling you that you should do it, but I digress.
The third stage is called Resentment. This stage is the holding on to the feeling of anger after the bullshit has passed. After you’re done feeling that rush through your system, after you’ve properly reacted in some sort of way, you still blame the other human for making you mad, for being such a prick. And who can blame you? If they made you that mad, they probably are a prick, and they probably don’t care that they made you feel so awful. Resentment isn’t healthy though, it only makes things worse, only breeds more anger in your system until the day comes where you forget what it’s like to feel anything besides that dreadful anger.
In the video, Twerski recounted a lesson he learned from Alcoholics Anonymous, and I would like to quote his quoting of said lesson: “Hanging onto resentment is like letting somebody live inside your head without paying any rent.” My watching of this random video was not the first time I’ve heard this quote, and I doubt this is your first time being exposed to it either, but it still rings true. While it seems a very kind thing to do, allowing someone to occupy your thoughts for free, you still have to pay a cost.
Similarly to controlling your reaction, letting go of resentment is one of the most difficult things for a human to accomplish. One can so easily lie to oneself about how one is feeling, and usually the lie is so good it’s believable. You can sit there and tell yourself and everyone around you how you don’t care, how the other human is a stupid prick and how you’re just so above that shit, but if you still feel anger inside, well, you’re still angry. In my experience, both meditation and running for miles on end (or a combination of the two if you can fathom such a thing) are powerful tools in letting go of resentment, but one needs a very open mind for meditation to work. One must find their method, for it does exist; one just needs to be willing to change oneself for the better.
Lastly, there’s a phenomenon Twerski brings up that struck home with me: feeling guilty for feeling anger. Like I stated previously, anger is just a human reaction, an animal reaction. Unless you operate at an Alan Watts level of zen, you’re going to encounter anger – you simply don’t have a choice. That’s precisely why feeling anger doesn’t matter; what matters is how you react to the anger.
Nobody is perfect, no matter how perfect they think they are, and everybody has bad days. To assist in controlling anger, Twerski suggests keeping an anger journal of some sort. Write down what happened and how you reacted, and then at the end of the day go back and read it, asking yourself, “Was that really the best I could have done?” This is how you learn from your experiences, how you grow as a being: by examining yourself and making changes based on what you don’t like.
An example I think everybody can relate to: we get mad at our parents, and for stupid shit. Not every day, mind you, but the next time Mother pretends she doesn’t hear what you said when you’re speaking directly in her ear or the next time your father stares unblinkingly at the TV as you try to talk to him, you’re going to get pissed off. It surely won’t be the first time you’ve felt anger towards your parents for behaving in a certain way. I used to feel guilty about getting angry at my parents, but in reality, they’re just like me: human beings trying to do their best in a world that harbors a seemingly self-destructive society. Feeling bad for feeling bad is no way to stop feeling bad, and as obvious as that might sound on paper, some humans never realize it.
Nobody is thinking clearly when they’re provoked into feeling anger, they’re under too much pressure; pressure to react, pressure to assert themselves over the provoker, pressure to not feel this way as soon as possible. And this is okay. What isn’t okay is holding on to the anger for what really amounts to nothing more than egotistical purposes. If you’re angry at someone, talk to them about it, try to resolve your differences. Even go out of your way to make up for it, for no other reason than it being the right thing to do; even Milkshake would go out of his way to cuddle with me a little bit more after he slung his claws and the fur flew.
Anger may be a mandatory part of life, but rage and resentment are nothing more than malignant cells just begging to be amputated. All you need to do is find the right knife.
To be trapped in a cage,
maned like a lion and an untamed temper,
simple words vicious enough to make you cry,
if I try.
And try I do;
you fucking buffoons better tie me to a rocket
and shoot me to the moon
and hope, nay, pray that some aliens don’t stop me
and try to save my life,
because I’ll kill all of them for not intervening sooner.
A spectral beam shooter
controlled by the ship’s computer,
tempting to push the but’.
I swear to god,
I refuse to stop myself,
this fucking world’s getting blown up.
fear a poem,
my symbols on this paper are so dark,
the blackest ink,
it swallows up the spark.
Solitude, a cold winter day;
watching a leaf flit through the air
over a pit where the last smoldering ember
I spit as the blood leaves my hands,
an icy grip coming over my very being;
feelings fleeting as a once bright soul
chooses to sit alone in the cold.
To be accepted rather than misunderstood,
to be placed on a pedestal
for the good I try to accomplish
while instead, the rest fear my expression,
cold like stone and alone,
carved from a block of wood.
Snowstorm, snowstorm, a white cloud blocks the sky.
I peer out my window,
what appears before my eyes?
The dry ground,
no branches bent low under the snow;
no blanket of blankness, no reason not to go.
Snowstorm, snowstorm, work is slow today.
An hour in the first flake falls,
I still don’t feel awake.
The radio plays the six same songs
every single day,
while we sit watching the snow fall,
wishing to be away.
Snowstorm, snowstorm, crystals turn to rain
pouring down from the heavens.
Clouds form inside my brain.
Pouting faces work ‘til five,
slush plowed the same as snow by Queen Bee.
This fucking job is driving me insane.
Left out in the cold,
getting that old shoulder like a boulder rolling into the sea
off the Cliffs of Dover.
It gets old, so what am I supposed to do?
Blackballed and opposed by my own fuckin’ high school, appalled, un-paid, and de-ranked
because of… wait, they never told me;
allegedly they hold themselves to a higher pedigree,
all the while staying cliqued up
like a fuckin’ baby seat.
In the North, South or West,
one would have to strap on a vest, but not in the East,
just eat the moldy wheat baked into your bread
while you fake up a character livin’ only in y’head.
Wake up, take a gander at the man in the mirror
inside your manor on the hill, pop some pills
and fill out your goddamned day planner by hand,
or by a minor that you pay
like forty-nine‘r fifty cents a day
to slave away chasin’ paper they won’t be taking
to their grave.
You punk pricks need your own parade
to get it through your thick skulls, it’s all a big charade.
Now go fuck your pig wives and sip your Hateorade.
I’m over this like a dove,
wings whiter than snow that it uses to fly above
the lowly Cliffs of Dover.
One In The Chamber
Every single time in my life I’ve sensed some danger
and was pushed towards it anyway;
that’s one in the chamber.
Give the benefit of the doubt, just ignore all their anger,
you have to help them anyway;
that’s one in the chamber.
Every human who calls me friend, beeping me like a pager
to treat me as a means to an end;
that’s one in the chamber.
Every human who fancies themselves some kinda trainer,
ordering me like I’m an animal;
that’s one in the chamber.
When humans act holy then shift like a shape changer,
wearing a mask like it’s their face;
that’s one in the chamber.
Humanity’s been lost, traded in for comfort and Haegar.
The magazine’s full now,
all the slugs in the chamber.
I’ve felt this way forever but bottled it like container;
I’m not pulling any triggers,
this is just a piece of paper.
It’s pretty cold out here and there’s snow in my shoes.
I’m confused, screaming at the sky,
“The fuck’m’I supposed to do?”
from sitting inside a box all day,
trapped with my thoughts and now the cold’s
soaking through my socks.
But yet I walk,
through the slush along a muddy path in the dark,
texting with a voice and feeling lost
inside my own heart.
But my hands are numb.
It’s hard to type when I can’t feel my thumbs,
and all that’s on my mind is the want
to shoot a gun.
But I keep pluggin’ along,
dragging my sluggish feet as frozen raindrops fall
and dilute my view of the screen.
The more I peer into the light, the darker the world seems.
And now my legs are cold,
the snow’s melting through my jeans.
There lies a certain beauty in days like today,
where the sky is cast over with
serene shades of gray.
The forest rains down drops of winter,
the sheet of ice clasp’d round the branches and leaves,
ghosts of what lies beneath.
They melt in little drops, tattering my head.
I’m reminded with a chill that,
though dark, lifeless and stiffer than dread,
the elders are not dead.
Nay, merely dormant,
waiting with great anticipation to fall like water
off the edge of a waterfall.
To the Earth they cascade, but what then?
It is too soon to tell.
The trees lie wrapped within their ghostly shells.
Stalagmites of ice stand proudly before the cave.
lost in eternal slumber,
Bleaker than night,
shaggier than a bear and thinner than the wing of a bat,
it casts fear in a gust of wind
that takes nothing but the hat from your head.
Its bread and butter dwell in the mutters of lost souls,
the young and the old cast astray
from the light of day.
The ground is wet,
puddled with tears shed by wanderers.
They freeze in towers,
teeth and fangs,
standing at the mouth of the cave.
I Forgot I Wrote This
Another day spent in darkness feeling all alone;
time to conjure misery
into another poem.
To make the feelings go away for at least another day,
until they return with a suitcase,
telling me they’ll stay.
Pushing me out of the way and setting up a shop,
chopping down my trees,
they plant seeds for crop.
Really what I’m doing here is crying for attention,
because the others are scared away
by my “psychotic tension.”
It was never my intention to end up like this,
I swear it’s just what’s happened.
I ran fingers through my hair and felt bone cave in,
I’ve been different ever since.
Or maybe they hear keywords
and decide that I’m finished.
I was always that guy who just sat there quietly
when the rest ran their mouths
trying to figure out me .
Instead of saying, “Hi,” or asking me, “What’s up?”
they drank the spoiled Kool-Aid juice
that’s poured into their cups.
But like I said,
I’m just writing this starving for attention.
It’s easier to talk some shit and stir up some contention.
Keep In Touch
Keep in touch.
Hearing those words used to put me in a huff.
Like, what the fuck is stopping you
from keeping in fucking touch?
What, are you too busy
building up a fucking bluff
just so I can lift you up from outside your fuckin’ rut?
Then I realized, that attitude stinks worse than a butt.
The others aren’t malicious,
their lives just fuckin’ suck.
They’ve lived the groundhog’s day so many times
they’re fuckin’ stuck,
placing bets on a lottery,
hoping for a stroke or luck.
If that’s true, all my sub-peers must be stupid as fuck.
Trading paper for other paper;
it all amounts to…
plus another brew poured inside your gut.
Wow, living on a prayer must be pretty fuckin’ tough.
But then I realized, this world is pretty fuckin’ rough.
The humans do their best,
but they’re running out of trust.
The parasitic Gov’ holds out a hand,
a silver glove demanding their piece,
their cut of your fuckin’ stuff.
And you’ve got kids to feed, an ass you’ve gotta bust,
‘cause it’s the only way you know
how to clean off all the rust.
I hope to leave this place one day,
and when I do, we’ll discuss
how much I enjoy your presence,
and my hope that you…
Keep in touch.