Last week, I paid tribute to my friends’ wedding, and briefly described how a practical application of philosophy enabled me to set aside some jitters–since I was both the minister and the DJ, I had a few responsibilities that day–and now I think I should tell you the rest of the story.
I held back last week, because my psyche employed a method to deal with these jitters that was just a tad inappropriate to describe in a “congratulations” post.
You see, shortly after waking up on that blessed day, I became angry.
Not at the wedding, or having to work, or the weather, or politics, baseball, burnt toast or any of the other usual suspects.
It was something someone said to me four or five years ago.
What it was, isn’t important, thank goodness, since I don’t now remember anything more specific than that about it. It might not have ever been important.
What is important, is what anger is.
We don’t examine it much. We have definitions, but we don’t, generally speaking, peer deeply into the source, the purpose, the spirit, that is “anger.”
What is it, really?
It occurred to me a while back, that anger is a defense mechanism against the sensation of powerlessness.
Think about it. Frustration, fear, outrage, shame…all of these things take away your sense of competence, ability, solidity, worth…they take away your power.
Getting angry is the fastest and easiest way to feel powerful.
Why the hell do you think The Incredible Hulk is so iconic, why he resonates with so many people?
We don’t turn green, gain 1,000 pounds of muscle and throw temper tantrums that can move entire buildings…but we can relate.
We relate to The Hulk, because we know what it’s like to be Doctor Banner. Puny Banner is weak and helpless. We know what that’s like. And we hate it, just like Hulk hates Banner. For the same reason.
I’ve been angry enough to feel the sensation of expanding like a balloon, so when I say I can relate, I mean it. When I was a little kid, when I would get angry, I would break things, and throw them away, even if they were my favorite toys. I didn’t understand it then, but now I can look back and see that it was an exercise of power, reassuring myself that I had it.
That’s all temper is. A response to powerlessness.
Frustration is pure powerlessness: the sensation that accompanies an unsuccessful attempt. What to do? Get angry, feel powerful. Stuck keys on a keyboard? Stripped screw? Internet goes down? These things have the audacity to thwart your will, and your subconscious leaps into action with a down-home dose of rabid wombat fury to counteract what it perceives as weakness, just like your body dumping oodles of white blood cells into your circulatory system to counteract a head cold.
Fear, on the other hand, is the sensation that accompanies vulnerability, the sensation that you are powerless against something. What to do? Get angry, feel powerful. Sometimes you just get pissed at yourself later, for being afraid, rather than getting angry at what caused the fear. The subconscious lacks a certain amount of dexterity in these matters.
Like I said in my previous post, on that wedding day a couple weeks ago, I was experiencing mild fear, a form of stage fright, and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, my subconscious was releasing some teeth-gnashing boogeyman from a dark, mildewed corner of my memory in a helpful attempt to piss me right off, and trigger a startling metamorphosis into a raging emerald behemoth punching holes in the fridge, because if that doesn’t make you feel powerful, what the hell will?
My child self would have been tossed around like a cork on that emotional wave. Hell, my adult self has been guilty of going Hulk Smash on a variety of occasions.
I’ve learned a few things since then.
The most important thing I’ve learned, at least on this subject, is that anger is not energy itself.
Once that concept clicks, in the “spiritual,” Zen sense as opposed to intellectual understanding, then you’ve got some real power.
Anger makes you feel powerful, and sometimes does give you a little adrenaline rush which gives you just a little extra oomph to unscrew a lid, or ram some asshole’s face down his throat. In those instances, the negative emotion is used to positive effect.
But anything can be carried too far: Remember, Banner has no idea what the Hulk is doing when the doctor is out. At least half of his life is a blank. That’s why he hates The Hulk. The Hulk doesn’t do his living for him…The Hulk lives instead of him. Again, never discount a message to spite its source; this portrayal is steadfastly accurate and very philosophical, because when you give in to it, anger does override everything else and becomes you. A temper tantrum is rage usurping the throne of your Self.
But the good news is, once you understand why you’re getting angry, you can stay in charge. You need energy, you can decide how to get it. “You have the power,” remember?
This is one of the reasons why I insist that it is important to be aware of, understand, and develop your Spirit, your motivational factors.
For some people, this level of anger management is easy to reach. I had to work at it for many years, and I’m just scratching the surface. I’m not saying it’s easy, or even that it’s guaranteed, I’m just saying that it’s possible if you’re willing to both work at it, and believe that you can do it.
Inside your head, you are God. Have a little faith in yourself.
It can be done. Takes some effort.
A bit like riding a motorcycle. The machine, like anger, is big and scary and powerful and makes noise; there are countless things that can go wrong at any moment and alter your life in a very bad way, forever.
But it can be tamed.
Those big bad scary things are real and must be acknowledged, but when you let them make your decisions for you, you lock yourself into a prison. The keys to opening those prison gates and taking charge of the machine, of your life, are a little confidence, a little effort, a little self belief.
When you get out of your prison, and you get on the bike, start down the road, and with the slightest pressure of one of your hands, your will be done.
That is a good feeling. Much better than being pissed off at some perceived inadequacy.
I already told you how the wedding day story ends, how I was able to use Mind and Spirit to control the Body, and transform negative energy into positive energy.
Fortunately so, because getting a wedding to go smoothly is a hell of a lot like trying to put Jell-O into a sock. Being all stormy would have put that sock in a blender.
So this time, I will leave you with the words of a nameless student of the martial art known as Ti Kwan Leep:
“Anger is a weapon, only to one’s opponent.”
That is the Truth.
And Truth rides a motorcycle.