Saturday, March 19, 2005

Anger Mismanagement

I would like to feel angry now. 'Cause you know, I am angry. Pretty fucking angry.

But it seems it's not okay to be angry anymore. Or more accurately, it's not safe to show your anger.

It's the 21st Century. It's okay for men to cry. It's a natural emotion. We've been freed to cry. Crying is good for you. There there, you can cry on my shoulder if I can cry on yours, you big lug.

Wonderful, except I don't want to cry. I want to scream. See, 'cause I'm not sad. I am angry. And why is it that it's not okay for me to scream, really scream?

Stress is bad for you. Otherwise healthy men die in their 40s and 50s because of stress. But what is stress, really? Is it pent up sadness? Pent up love? No. Fear? Probably. But mostly it's pent up anger.

Men today (women too, but I think it's considered okay for women to get angry) are being taught to "get in touch with our emotions". Translation: just the gushy, fluffy ones. Not the dirty, nasty ones. Look, I've been in touch with my emotions since around the time of my birth and right now the emotion is anger. Why is it be okay to be in touch with sadness but not with anger?

What am I so angry about? Losing my most trusted friend to alcoholism. Watching someone very dear throwing away inestimable talent. Being held up at gunpoint. A coworker whose laziness is forcing me to repeat my work for the 3rd time. The general rabid stupidity of people. My inability to accept being average in the long term. My neighbor putting his garbage cans on my side of the sidewalk on Weds nights. Sleep deprivation is a big factor. Aging. Definitely angry about that.

I think display of anger is being phased out because it has so many negative connotations. Especially violence. We kill others in anger. We kill ourselves. We wage war in anger. We cut each other off on the highway, blow ourselves up in public places, we take out classmates with submachine guns. We toss grenades into wells filled with living human beings. We beat our wives, our kids, our pets.

So yeah, anger can lead to lots of bad stuff. But that doesn't make anger itself wrong. I think everyone agrees with this and yet there is less and less outlet for anger.

Sports? Please. First off, playing a round of tennis after dealing with SBC's customer support for 4 hours is not going to get rid of my fantasy of ripping out their tech's shriveled heart and eating it. Second, there are too many rules in sports. We already have too many rules in our lives. It's one of the reasons why I get angry so easily in the first place.

Computers? On the surface there's lots of possibility for release of anger here. Especially in games. But computer hardware and software is full of frustration traps, both on the design and utility levels; and in the case of online communities, there are the hordes of angry angry people that fill them......

Sex? It may relieve frustration but don't confuse frustration with anger. Sex is a terrible idea if you're angry. Save sex for love, passion, and pleasure.

Art? Definitely, but you can't force Art. Never force Art.

Drugs? Nothing worse than being angry and high.

Yoga? Martial Arts? A twinge of hope here but I don't get angry on schedule.

Gun range? I don't like guns. There's a fair chance the barrel will end up in my mouth.

Meditation? Yes, it can work. But it's tricky, especially in a busy environment.

What I would like to do right now is get on my motorcycle and ride at around 130 mph. It's not road rage. I'm not raging at anyone on the road. I just want to keep going. The speed is important. The pace is important. The corner entry and exit. Keeping it together. The concentration required alone is probably the most effective way i've found to make the anger go away.

Unfortunately hurtling your body mounted upon a 450lb machine at that speed is getting awful close to violence. One mistake (mine or someone else's) and I'm an organ donor. And then there's the CHP who with the simple act of writing a few things on a piece of paper can transform a healthy stress reliever into quite the opposite.

What I really want to do is scream. I want to scream at you, at my neighbor, I want to scream at the horizon. At the TV.

It's time to bring back the Primal Scream. Open your window, take a big breath, and howl like a madman. Call me up and I'll scream with you.

Or maybe you should just hit me. As hard as you can.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Sing Spring!

The thought occured to me that in 'Heaven', the weather is probably a hell of a lot like it was in San Francisco today. While the summers are famously cold and blustery as winters, and the winters wet and a dreary grey, March can bring days of such spectacular beauty and surprising warmth that all the days of the rainy season are immediately forgiven.

Back in New England, winter is still in full effect -- blustery, freezing drizzle and snow on the ground -- little chance of any beautiful young woman breaking free of her chill-protecting outerwear for the spaghetti-straps, sheer fabric, spring-colored skirts and bare skin everywhere that is prevalent here in Northern California.

It seems like a good day for a person to embark on new courses of action-- the kind of day that feels like a warm breeze pouring through a window, fresh sheets on the bed and the opportunity for starting something new (though it's just as likely to result in someone kicking back in the sun and doing about as much nothing as one can possibly not do...)

Spring is the wonderful time which ignites the passion of life, the anticipation of outdoor activities and events, the invigorating visual stimulation of the revelation of human flesh bursting free, and the progressive extension of the very daylight in which to relish it all.

The birds are singing, the cherry blossoms are blooming, and life -- if only for a short while -- seems well worth living... even for committed atheists such as me.

Sing Spring!