Words and Images by David Finley
My fellow Scofflaws, I am a mellow and peaceful person. Trust me.
I believe it is better to be slow to anger, and to speak reasonably whenever possible. Conflict should be approached with compromise as the goal. We should 'do unto others as we would have done to us'.
That's not to say I actually process my anger in a healthy way. My prescried method of dealing with the things of life that threaten to anger me or steal my peace is to sip on a nice healthy glass of emotional repression followed by emotional eating and panic attacks.
I have the kind of temper that endures the big things rather well, but the little things tend to accumulate in a kind of anger safety deposit box. Well, that box has a limit, and when the limit is reached and my sense of justice has reared its ugly head... well, it's like an episode of the Jerry Springer Show goes off in my brain. It's not the violent kind where security has to break them up, but it still isn't pleasant, nor is it something I'm proud of.
I write all of this to say that I regret spending a lot of my time being angry for the last few years. As I wrote before, in What Really Matters in Life, I worked at a job that made me very very unhappy, which led to frustration, anxiety, and then anger.
Don't get me wrong, there was plenty to be angry about. So, I justified my anger based on the mistreatment dealt my way. It was a sense of entitlement, or selfishness really, that fueled my rage. I told myself it was the only way to survive, and again, that my anger was justified by the wrong doing of others.
Fortunately, my home life was the opposite of my professional life. My wife, provided much needed balance and wisdom to my situation, urging me out of my anger cave every evening as we drove home. There was also a little black cat at home, named Skelly, waiting to purr in my lap and tell me all was okay in the world. Although the transition took time every night, sometimes taking several hours, their love would eventually calm me down enough to get a little rest.
Yet, now that my life has completely changed, I wish that I could go back and remove the anger. I wish that despite my job and its stresses, I could have lived in the joy brought on by the first few years of a wonderful marriage. I wish I could go back and spend time in complete peace with my little cat, who passed away a few months ago. I wish that I had found the courage to stand up for myself at work much sooner, despite the consequences.
These days, I'm not angry. My life has a much different pace almost as if I can see all of those things in the distance. Daily battles have been replaced by simple pleasures. Chances are, things might not have been that different circumstantially even if I had not let anger affect me. But, I would have been able to enjoy the good I did have in life a lot more.
So, let others have their conflict and their games. Let's take ourselves out of the mire. It may sound trite or cliche', but walking away from these things and forgiving those that hurt us leaves more time to chase love, peace, and happiness.
Giving up anger can be like giving up a drug. There is definitely a withdrawal process. Change doesn't come easy, but it is worth it.
I'd like to leave you all today with these parting words, from my favorite song that speaks about separating yourself from the stresses and common rat-races of life:
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin,
When I say that I'm o.k. they look at me kind of strange,
Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game,
People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me,
When I tell that I'm doing Fine watching shadows on the wall,
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?
I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go,
- John Lennon, "Watching the Wheels"
Thanks so much for reading.