Monday, February 27, 2012
I have observed in myself and others that as we age...we get inherently more "angry". Some of us don`t express it demonstrably. Some of us cover it up big time. But...it is still there. That long building anger over a lifetime of observed injustices, disappointments, failures, people who did us wrong, and the failure of institutions such as governments and churches to follow through on their promises and claims.
I saw the movie "Grumpy Old Men" a while back, and while I could use a refresh...I remember thinking that these guys represented at least one generation of aging American men who morphed into slouching, negative, down-right mean individuals who had lost respect for most everyone and everything...even themselves. While I like to think I can avoid that aging tendency...I have already caught myself moving that direction.
The past couple years I have found myself more emotionally reactive and negative towards the institutions of the world. Government and religion has become totally suspect in my book of purporting anything truthful or helpful. Yep, I`m angry at all the deceptions I have discovered.
I also find myself much less patient with PEOPLE. I more easily grow despondent at the ignorance all around me...and even my own discoveries of how wrong I have been on so many issues for so many decades. This makes me...ANGRY! I can never replace those years of wrong thinking and acting on that thinking. I cannot reverse decisions made on trust and confidence wrongly placed. I cannot quickly or easily reverse the effects of aging, hard living and the toll modern life takes out on a person. If I could go live in a monastery (well, maybe a secular one) or health farm somewhere where I only had to focus on taking care of myself physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally...I might be able to become LESS angry. Yet, realistically, I think and feel what I do...and I cannot deny it.
I most recently have discovered my release of anger via driving in Panama...and playing tennis. If I don´t control myself...I find myself driving very aggressively to get around or ahead of "stupid people" who don`t know how to drive, which lane to go slow in, or who willingly jump ahead of a long line waiting to merge. Its a good thing I don't own a gun anymore.
I also started playing tennis again a couple years ago...but I find my ability much inhibited from what it was when I played 30 years ago. How can that be? My serve used to be the best part of my game...now it is my worst. I find my body does not react as quickly to my mind when it comes to moving or making strategic plays. So...I get angry...and I throw my racket much more than I ever used to. I swear more than I used to. Its like, if I don't find an outlet for my frustration and anger...I think I might explode right there in the middle of the court.
Now, its easy for others to say "just calm down, take a deep breath, and think in a more positive manner. It is a beautiful day...we are getting exercise...and enjoying each others company." BS...we are here to compete and to win...otherwise why play? Of course, the main problem is "I am beating myself" by being so angry and out of control. While I believe in "mind over matter"...that doesn`t come automatically. A couple weeks ago I even told my playing partners I would pay them each $1 every time I threw my racket. Amazingly, I didn`t throw it once that day...and won both sets I played. I guess its all financial...:)
Now, I do believe there is such a thing as righteous or justified anger. Injustice should always make us angry. When we become complacent to injustice, we will soon find ourselves accepting it...and being enslaved by that which we have accepted as "normal" or "acceptable" injustice.
I also do not apologize for being angry about being lied to and cheated...whether that is in a game, or whether that is institutionalized stealing such as the USA social security system and misappropriation of government funds my taxes were partly paying for. I definitely see anger rising in many of us Americans along these lines...and some of it is overdue. The main issue is...what are we doing or going to do about that which angers us? Anger can be good if it initiates positive mobility towards correcting injustice or outright fraud. And if that anger turns into a new "revolution"...then so be it. Revolution is probably what is needed in many cases...and resoluteness brought on by anger can be a revolutionary catalyst in life.
In summary, I do believe it is best to find balance between controlling anger and letting it out at certain times and in certain ways. I think people who hold all their anger inside eventually experience significant mental and/or physical "illness". Yet, I also have observed that people who express their anger all the time are no fun to be around...and they can miss out on the more positive side of human love and interaction because they can`t get beyond their anger and be more positive.
At the end of the day..."don`t let the sun go down on your wrath"...meaning don`t take anger to bed with you. Deal with it, get it out, express it, do something about it. Then you can probably rest easier and live longer knowing that you are human...and you have demonstrated that "you don`t have to take it anymore"...