I’ve known it well – too well! – the searing, red-hot, eyes widening, sharp intake of breath signaling an attack of ANGER! Just thinking about past skirmishes knots my gut. YUCK. I logged many hours being angry; gladly I’ve also logged many hours examining and recovering from it. I examined it because I very much did not like the feeling of being not in control of myself; I kept looking because the insights I discovered about how my mind works were so gratifying. Some of the coolest and most helpful realizations included coming to understand the root of anger, something Pema Chodron labels as shenpa, or “getting hooked.” (For more on Pema’s exploration into anger, I whole-heartedly recommend her enlightening and engaging audiobook Don’t Bite the Hook: Finding Freedom from Anger Resentment and Other Destructive Emotions.)
But in this morning’s reading, I was exposed to a novel view of anger, and I like this very much, too. I’ve always considered anger a very, very bad thing, to be avoided, and if that’s not possible, to be worked through, examined, and always, always, to be kept in its deep and frightening black hole of sticky gunk. Furthermore I had only ever considered it as the result of something, the end. But this new view, as I understand it, posits anger as a helpful tool – the beginning of something bright and good. That’s news I can use!
“Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend. Not a gentle friend. But a very, very loyal friend. It always tells us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interest. Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, page 62
This view puts anger in the role as valuable guide, shining a strong clear light on what needs to be reckoned with, addressed, and solved. Not that the solution is automatically presented; anger is there as a bright flashing signal pointing directly at an area that needs attention, in an arms flailing, “Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!”, pay attention NOW sort of way. “Anger is a tool, not a master” Julia Cameron tells us.
I wondered what sort of photograph to attach to the blog as anger is not something I normally photograph! I did have a lovely RED photo of a Saipan sunset though, but sunsets rarely make me angry, especially exquisite ones like this. It’s good to balance things!
Proust Questionnaire Question of the Day: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Oh golly, another ‘est’ question! I have to pick one? That’s very hard, but Kostya Levin of Anna Karenina would definitely be a contender. A decent, very human, and very flawed hero.