I wouldn’t describe myself as an angry person, but it’s definitely something I have to spar with, and the older I get the more I am aware of it.
I’m not wrathful. I never have been. It just not in my nature to punch or throw things. I don’t curse, unless it’s in fun. I don’t plot world domination or hold grudges, but I do get angry. Sometimes very angry.
I don’t like the feeling of anger. I see no sense in it, but I have to come to grips with the fact that it is and was intended to be a part of who I am.
I don’t like the way I speak to people sometimes. Especially my wife and children. I habitually arm my sentences with sarcasm to most likely mask some hidden regret or disappointment. I raise my voice once in a while and get very frustrated. I am quick to say no, but ultimately in time, I calm down, think things over, and mend what needs mending, if it needs mending.
I don’t understand why I get angry. I don’t understand what purpose it serves. It must be some survival instinct which helped us as a species to survive some pretty scary happenings, but an instinct which today might be causing more harm than good. Maybe its just part of what it means to be human or what it means to be a parent.
There are days, mid afternoon most particularly that I feel like my body and mind is on a state of perpetual alert. Maybe Defcon 3 or perhaps even Defcon 2. Sometimes it feels like I am somewhere between a state of increased readiness and full out nuclear war.
The other day I was in the middle of a roundabout. The other driver was approaching really fast. I had the right of way. They needed to yield. I applied my breaks and stopped. They did too. Then we were in a stand off. They didn’t move. I didn’t move. I got very angry. Angry at their recklessness. Angry that I was just sitting there in the middle of a roundabout not moving.
I wanted them to move so that I could be angrier, but they didn’t. I made the first move. I didn’t see their face. I didn’t know if it was a man or a woman. I don’t know if they were old or young. Happy or angry too. The rear-view mirror was blocking my view and I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to know. I wanted to be angry.
I’m not sure what I was angry at. It could have been a simple mistake like the mistake I made earlier in the week, when I accidentally merged into oncoming traffic, thinking that the approaching car was in the opposite lane. They weren’t and I cut them off. I’m not really sure why I was just sitting there, all puffed up, angry like.
The reason why the incident is so vivid in my mind is that I peeled out. I mean I peeled out. My poor tired didn’t see it coming and I don’t think I have ever peeled out in my life. But there I was, wheels turning, tires screaming, and rubbers burning. My poor little Hyundai almost went into cardiac arrest.
And for what?
I felt so embarrassed.
I wanted to drive back, find the driver and explain that this is not who I am. That it wasn’t me driving. That I was hijacked. Kidnapped. Taken hostage.
I realize that anger must ultimately serve some kind of evolutionary purpose. I know that it’s most useful in sports, rebellion, and war. I only wish it wouldn’t come, in the middle of the day, when the sun is shining, and the world is smiling.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Sebastiaan Stam via unsplash.com