17 September

Lining Up For Carrots: Letting Anger Go

by Jon Katz
Lining Up For Carrots

In the morning, the donkeys line up for their carrots. Simon is almost always first.

This weekend, something important happened to me. I let anger go. I felt it leaving me, leaving my body. I tend to process things by writing about them, and that upsets some people who think some things should not be written about, or if they are, then they have a license, an invitation,  to be angry with me. I understand that, sad as it is. But the issue is never them, it is me. The problem is not theirs, it is mine. They are responsible for themselves, as I am responsible for me. And I felt something change this weekend, my interior life rearranged a bit, perhaps a good bit.

This weekend, after many years of working, I felt something leave me, something ugly, unwanted, old and embedded. It just went away. Like a hard cold thing inside of me, it just dislodged itself. I have no interest in it any longer. It passed like some bad food lodged in  my stomach.  I had this feeling I don’t much need to write about some of these things anymore, and I wanted to share my experience with this, and say that we can move past some of the feelings we don’t want to have – anger, argument, fear, cynicism, the despair and loneliness that anger spawns. We may not be able to shed them entirely, or make them completely disappear or even always live up to our own expectations, but we can move beyond them and live beyond them. We do not need the agreement or approval of other people to do this, we can do this ourselves.

A woman came up to me at the Adirondack Museum Saturday and she said that after reading my blog, she stopped watching cable news and its eternal political arguments. And then, after that, she was less angry and stopped fighting with people at work every morning. Her day changed.  She had read something I wrote – that everyone I knew who watched cable news or followed a lot of media reporting was angry about something, and she thanked me, and that, I think, got my interior self moving. If she could do it reading my writing, then I could do it being me. A strange idea, a big idea.

The truth is fear just breeds fear. Anger just breeds anger. On its own, anger, like fear, starves to death and has to seek another host to prey on.  Both are sicknesses, even though they are natural parts of us, and it feels quite wonderful to let them go, kiss them goodbye, bless them and wish them well. Peace and compassion to them. I am not foolish or myopic. You can’t just wish parts of you away. There are things inside of me that can never be washed away, never completely disappear. But I am learning to let go, and it feels quite wonderful in so many ways, like taking a cool shower after a hot and sticky day.

When all is said and done, I’d rather be taking a photo of a donkey waiting for a carrot.

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