Anger Management

There’s a car commercial on TV that shows a bunch of kids (real kids, not actors, it says) with a big video game and only one controller. And only one kid gets to play. After the game is over, the interviewer asks the children how it feels to not get a turn. One kid, Brandon, according to his name tag, says ‘pretty jealous’, with a big smile on his face. Like the kind of smile you’d put on if you were the kid with the controller and the words were ‘pretty awesome’. It makes me cringe every time I watch it.

Why, you ask? Because, to me, if seems like Brandon thinks he can’t show his true feelings. He has to be cheery, no matter what. And the editors thought it was so cute that they actually inserted it into an otherwise Brandon-free commercial. His adorable little face is nowhere to be found in the rest of those 1.27 minutes.

I want to reach into my TV set and hug that kid. And I want to smack whoever taught him that he can’t show that’s he’s sad about not getting a turn at the controller. Why can’t this kid just pout? Why can’t he be pissed off?

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us grew up with the same lessons. We learned early how to play nice. How to share. Don’t pout. Don’t whine. Don’t yell. Don’t get angry. It’s not nice.

Now generally, I think sharing and playing nice are good things. And pouting, whining, and yelling can be anything from mildly annoying to downright hurtful. But sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we all lose it. Sometimes we’re just not happy. We can be mildly perturbed, or steaming mad, with or without good reason. When I was a young woman, I had hormone fluctuations that could have been a good defense in a murder trial, especially if I were able to mind meld the judge. Today, if you put me behind the wheel, and someone is driving slowly in the fast lane, my normal, happy, meditating self turns from Dr. Jekyll into Mrs. Hyde. I will more than fill my quota for F-bombs allowed in one day.

And that’s OK.

I try to attach no moral value to my outbursts. They are what they are. Not my finest moments, but not cause for punishment either. If I get pissed off, and say something stupid, I’ll apologize for it after, but I’m not about to go say a bunch of Hail Mary’s, begging for forgiveness for my moral failures. Once upon a time, I would have. Once upon a time, I would have thought that I was deeply flawed, instead of just human.

We are, all of us, bits of stardust and light, wrapped in the skin suit of humanity, doing our best with what we have. Our imperfect bodies and our imperfect minds. They may not always cooperate with our benevolent plans, but they do not take away from our innate beauty. Believe it.

As I spend more time focussing on that stardust and light, more time living in that truth of who I really am, the easier it becomes to accept my humanity. The easier it is to love myself and others. To see past the mess, and recognize the purity. Who knows, maybe one of these days, I’ll even stop swearing at people when I drive.

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