The first time I recognized it fully was in the back seat of the gear truck this past summer. I was sitting next to a guy that I didn’t particularly like, and he was getting on my nerves. He was being himself: loud and obnoxious; at least that’s how I was viewing it at the time. I was reading a book with my headphones in and I could still hear him saying nasty things about a co-worker. He was speaking about ten decibels louder than necessary with gestures too big for the truck, especially when three of us were crammed into the same seat. I could feel his knee pressing against mine, and it was distracting me because I didn’t want him to touch me. I wanted to move my leg, but I left it where it was because I didn’t want him to win the space.
I was growling at him in my thoughts, telling him in all types of prettily decorated choice words about how I didn’t like him.
Then I saw it.
I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
Before he sat next to me I had been humming softly to myself and reading with a slight smile on my face. My mood was light. I was excited for the day. None of that remained while he was there. I had taken a day full of nothing but promising moments, and begun to kill it. My mood turned sour, my thoughts negative. My temperature rose and my head pulsed ever so slightly by my temples. My breathing had become erratic, and my hands felt tingly. I was clenching my jaw and not noticing a bit of Alaskan scenery. I was staring past the words in my book without reading any of them. I wanted to strike him, strangle him…MAKE him be quiet. I wanted to scream, “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” and seethed at him for being such an irritating asshole.
I wanted to destroy him, but I was only destroying myself.
He was still just being himself. He hadn’t a clue that I was furious and hating him at the moment; that my rage had an intoxicating feature that restricted my ability to focus on anything else.
He was enjoying telling his story and I was hating him for it.
I simply stopped.
And I smiled.
It was so clear. I finally TRULY understood! Anger, irritation, and aggravation really DON’T affect ANYBODY else like they do the person harboring them. Anger truly is like taking a poison for the sole purpose of killing someone else. It simply isn’t logical.
I wrote a poem when I was still in Afghanistan, two and a half years ago, in a flash of anger and sadness. I was trying to express how the feeling took over my body. It’s interesting that I could see so vividly how anger was like a poison coursing through my veins, yet I didn’t make a single effort to end it.
It was called:
Fragility of Existence
Pain – raw, unreigned
Fuelled by disappointment
Hope, desire, light
Starved, silently seeking sustenance
Hungry, aching, shriveling
Becoming frantic, Pain meets
No single sentiment dares remain.
Satisfied, Pain, too, departs,
Pursuing another soul feigning happiness.
Elsewhere destruction ensues,
For nothing exists in the absence of light.
I read that now, and I can’t believe the state of mind I must have been in to write that. I remember the moment completely. The overwhelming feeling of sheer pain in those words. I was looking outwards for help. I wanted the people who were treating me poorly to stop. I wanted to stop hating what I was doing.
Then, I thought…I could be happy.
If THEY would fix THEMSELVES, I could be happy.
If THEY would just APPRECIATE me or give me CREDIT, I could be happy.
If THEY would just TRUST and RESPECT me, I could be happy.
If THEY would at least ACCEPT me, I could be happy.
If I could just be SOMEWHERE ELSE, I could be happy.
If I could be with SOMEONE ELSE, I could be happy.
If I had a little more FREEDOM, I could be happy.
If, if, if….then, then, then. There were so many conditions to my happiness!
Now having been where I was then and where I am now, I will simply recommend you choose love, acceptance, and happiness.
Step away from self consuming anger, sadness, and hate.
That’s the only way to live without concocting your own toxins! Do you really want poison in your system?
The only moment that matters is the one you are in, don’t destroy it over a grudge…
Holding a grudge is like sitting still while being eaten alive by one rat when you could simply stand up, brush the damn thing off, and chase it out with a broom.
Challenge yourself today. Chase away the rat.
Embrace this moment.
Remember, tomorrow’s not guaranteed.