Only anger

It is only anger. It’ll go. But it might wilt worlds before it does.

Generations have come and gone, brandishing their awareness of the magnitude of its wrath. But anger keeps claiming its booty. And with time, its victims seem keener to please it.

My problem with anger is that it plays hide and seek with me. Really. It sneaks behind the beaded curtain I love so well. It knows the play of light against the crystal beads will distract me so much, I’ll forget to chase it. But it’s still there, isn’t it? Right behind the curtain, ready to come out and ravage. Leaving me at a pass where the crystal lights look dimmer, the anger’s presence a constant niggle.

I am not sure there is any other emotion that can boast of both explicit and implicit devastation, almost to the same degree. Anger can nibble at the edges of your quietude, even as its unmatched gall is getting ready to pour its bitter rum into that peaceful sponge. It will be devastating, of course. All of it.

All? Well, we’ve heard of constructive anger. And most of us have tried it, too. It feels good, I think. When you demonstrate your integrity with anger in a situation that warrants a little don’t-mess-with-me attitude, you make it constructive. Sadly, it usually only singes the tips of your hair; and that comes in handy just to cull the split ends, if there are any. It may be a win-win situation for you, but like all good things, it takes a large chunk of the drama out.

This emotion is meant to consume you, make you do and say things you’d never have tolerated from another, until you realise you’ve done it. By that time, anger is walking out of the beaded curtain, probably after having filled your home with the reek of its cigar. You could open the windows to let the stench curl out and choke the song birds, but it has a unique quality of lingering long.

Aristotle was a clever man, we’re told. This proves it – “Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way… that is not easy.”

So, in a way, this emotion is not meant to consume you, or make you do and say things you’d never have tolerated from another. You allow anger to pull you to places you’d rather deny existed only because you forget to count the extent of right required to get it right. Tough luck. To make matters worse, anger is usually considered to be the broken teapot you don’t display in your drawing room. The poor, clueless, fragile piece of porcelain languishes behind the thunderous music system, its atoms shuddering at the onslaught of the percussion in your Beethoven. And one day, it shatters.

Like all other things in this world, anger wilts under neglect. Or does it?

Allow me to rephrase. Like all other things in this world, if neglected, anger warps into an ugly thing.

To be able to not feel anger would be like not having to shovel snow in winter. Not possible. The trick is to feel its subtle waves and give it a mature outlet before too much misdirection makes it emerge in a way that is not only hurtful for the person you direct it to, but magically makes you a guilty repeater of the same action in the future. And in all probability, it will come out stronger the next time. And then, neglect or not, the anger will continue to visit your home, it will turn your crystal beads opaque, and it will choke your song birds.

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30 thoughts on “Only anger”

  1. This is powerful, and grows more so with each sentence and paragraph. I especially like:

    “I am not sure there is any other emotion that can boast of both explicit and implicit devastation, almost to the same degree.”

    And “neglect or not, the anger will continue to visit your home, it will turn your crystal beads opaque, and it will choke your song birds.”

    Aristotle was right and so are you: If we could all learn how to express anger in constructive and appropriate ways, many of the world’s problems would disappear, or fail to appear in the first place.

    1. Of all the emotions, the use or abuse of anger has the most formidable capacity to make or break situation — with immediate effect. It’s instantaneous, isn’t it? The post is powerful, Charles, because it is a powerful emotion.

  2. I agree with BB that this is a powerful piece of writing. It’s one that needs to be read more than once.

    I love your language Priya:
    “…anger plays hide and seek with me”
    “Anger can nibble at the edges of your quietude..”
    “You could open the windows to let it waft out and choke the song birds,”

    1. I do agree with you, Rosie. This post and the ones like it need to be read more than once. Not because they’re well written, but because they’re demanding. When you read such things, you tend to grasp a bit of their purport. And then go somewhere and come back and look at some other thing. Not surprisingly, the same thing happens when you write such things. It can be taxing. And since it is usually the truth, it becomes even more consuming. Like bitter medicine!

  3. Beautiful prose about an emotion that is part of us all, whether we like it or not. It’s a matter of degree. Today I got angry, very angry. The amazing thing about anger – if it’s not directed at a person, but rather at a thing, an issue, it doesn’t feel like it leaves such a stain. But the trick is letting go – opening the beaded curtains wide and shooing it outside. Loved this post, Priya. You’re such an artist.

    1. Anger at things and issues can be so much more frustrating. I am not sure whether mine has ever led to rage, but it does make me feel exacerbating-ly helpless. The bead curtain does need an occasional opening, I agree.

      “..such an artist” — If I told you you made my day Jean, would you say it more often?

  4. I have this habit of reading a post immediately after posting one on Indivine.
    Yours was posted just a couple below mine and the Caption couldn’t have drawn my attention any faster. Anger is one of those emotions that defines me.
    And I wonder if anyone can ever get it right..
    More often than not, I tend to rub it off the wrong way.. but it does help take heavy burdens off the chest at times. 🙂
    You very easily create a picture with your words.
    Excellent writing for a soothing read.
    Subscribed to your blog 🙂

    1. “…I wonder if anyone can ever get it right..” You got it just right in this sentence, Varun. If we could all master this emotion, there’d be some increase in boredom in this world, wouldn’t you say?

      Glad you like this blog. I like yours, too!

    1. Thank you for coming over, Damyanti, and liking what you read. I feel honoured to receive appreciation from a writer such as yourself.

  5. You paint such a vivid picture with your words, Priya. I will have to reread this a few times for sure. Anger is something that I still grapple with–what should I do when I feel it? How should I direct it (or is it better sometimes to let it sit underneath the surface rather than acting on it?) How can we let it go or should we? What tactic is the most useful or kind…to ourselves and each other? I have Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, “Anger” sitting in my bookcase. I think I’ll have to get around to reading it again.

    1. Yes Darla, anger can be debilitating. Most of us try to find out a way to get away from its consequences. The strange thing about anger is that despite knowing better, we succumb to its entrapment.
      Read the book and see if it helps you in finding a plane you’re looking for. We’ll hopefully read a post from you subsequently, should you feel like it!

  6. I like the phrase “You allow anger to pull you to places you’d rather deny existed…” I am a pretty stoic, level-headed, straight-laced person. I often avoid emotions or situations that would push or pull me anywhere. But then (several years ago, or perhaps slowly over the past few decades) I realized the truth you captured in that phrase I quoted. The truth that emotions and uncomfortable situations can push or pull us to places we try to avoid that we need to experience–places that stretch us as a person and help us mature.

    Thanks for the interesting, well-crafted post.

    1. Kevin, to read your appreciation is like knowing I have done well. And yet, is there ever a “doing well” in such things? The reluctant stretching of our beings is something we’ve all experienced, haven’t we? We do enter those places we didn’t want to see, step in wide-eyed with amazement at its darkness. But, thankfully, like you say, we have the option of looking at it as an opportunity to mature.

  7. Priya — A very powerful piece of writing.The word imagery created by you e.g. choking of song birds, bead curtains, almost feels like a painting.The marvel is how intensely but gently you have described a very negative emotion. Anger remains almost the most damaging feeling for the Mankind. Once again kudos to your writing skills.

  8. I like your post, Priya but had to come back to it. Anger is a gut reaction, it wells up from inside. I used to be a very angry person, angry very frequently – and then I changed environments and it eased off… except occasionally, but it dies down pretty quickly usually. Currently I’m trying (possibly with not much success) to channel anger into joining with others in my area to keep electric pylons, wind farms and substations away.

    1. Environment. I find this increasingly amazing, Val. The way the ambiance and things around us make us react to situations is a fabulous subject for study.

      All the very best with your constructive channelising. Tell them they are wasting their time. Nature has something else in mind.

  9. Interesting post Priya -As the Bhagavad gita says – “Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed”.

    1. Bhagavada Gita — it is arguably the one ancient text that talks more sense for a normal, erring human than all the worlds books put together. If only we could correctly interpret, and bravely incorporate its teachings!

      Thank you, Sajeev. It is good to see you here. A person who writes “Courage is not bravado” in his poem is already someone I’d like to befriend and see more of!

      http://sajeevkmenon.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/courage/

  10. “Anger can nibble at the edges of your quietude, even as its unmatched gall is getting ready to pour its bitter rum into that peaceful sponge. It will be devastating, of course. All of it.”

    There is true genius in finding the words to encompass this vast and destructive emotion. Like everyone else, I’ve had my battles with anger. The worst kind is the anger that bubbles forth befoe you even realize the well has been tapped. I always regret my words when that happens.

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten a bit of a handle on anger, but it is always there, ready to burst through the beads. I find my fear of anger and what it does to me often hold me back from engaging in causes that are important to me. The conflict is simply too distressing.

    Thanks for shining the flashlight into this dark closet.

    1. “I find my fear of anger and what it does to me often hold me back from engaging in causes that are important to me.” It is this very battle I fight every day, too. And my reasons are also the same, Linda. I was hoping to use this post as a kind of an outlet to help me channelise the frustration a little. It helped in a way.

  11. So very Beautifully written! I was engrossed into it the moment I started reading it. True, Anger really blows out the lamp of one’s mind. I am not that short tempered but the next time I do get angry at someone I am going to think about this post for sure. Thanks:)

    1. I appreciate your visit and comment. But more than that, I admire your interest in using this as a reminder even though you are not short-tempered. It’s a great virtue to want to correct yourself even if there is a slightest chance of you faltering. I can’t say I am short-tempered, but like Linda says above, when anger does visit, it makes me regret what I say or do. An occasional reminder is a good thing, no?

      Thank you again, Arti. I look forward to more posts from you on the temples in India http://myyatradiary.blogspot.com/

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