Recently, I have found myself being consumed by anger. Why am I angry? That is what I am attempting to sort through. I was raised to believe that if you work hard for tomorrow, you will be rewarded. I know now, that I perverted that notion into believing perfection was the reward. I have vigorously applied this ideology in my life, and thought that by reading everything I can get my hands on, educating myself to understand our world, and by working hard; that perfection was possible. But the truth is: life is brutal and the moments of pure joy and so called perfection are fleeting. Anger comes from craving that pure joy all the time, but it is not possible. Perhaps D.H. Lawrence understood this feeling as well when he said, "You'll never succeed in idealizing hard work. Before you can dig mother earth you've got to take off your ideal jacket. The harder a man works, at brute labor, the thinner becomes his idealism, the darker his mind". Letting go of idealism is part of growing up, and as much as I know I am a grown up, I am still growing.
Wanting to let go of my anger has led me on a journey to let go of the past. Not because my past is horrible, but because it was so good. I was raised in a family with it's fair share of troubles and hurtles. I have always thought of the hurtles as a challenge to discover the beauty in life.
All I have been remembering was the hard work, and the imperfect vision of perfection.
That leads me to where I am now, when life has become unfair. More and more frequently, as I grow older, pessimism and anger have found a way into my world. Lost is the: work hard and you will be rewarded. Found is the: work hard and you might get sour cherries. I can think of several examples where working hard has not delivered happiness: my best friend who overcame many childhood hardships only to discover she has stage 4 cancer, my brother in law who lost his daughter, my friend who lost her husband to melanoma and her young children who lost their father, and my grandparents who worked hard for so long, only to end their lives in a demented state with 24 hour care givers. Honestly, this is an abbreviated list of the hardships I have witnessed lately. All of this brutality has lead me to anger, and now I am on a journey to find the answers of how to let go of the anger.
I found this parable in my readings and wanted to share it with you:
Once upon a time there was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he should hammer a nail in the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. But gradually, the number of daily nails dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the first day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He proudly told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.
"You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, it won't matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry', the wound is still there."
Just like the little boy, except for the fact that I am a grown woman, I am seeing what anger can cause. It is only making the path that I walk on more difficult to traverse. Life will never be the one I envisioned as a child, it can be more exhausting and cruel than any fairy tale I ever read. Not only is life unpredictable and unfair, it never ends like a fairy tale. But I now understand this: happiness is found in the soul, in the quiet peacefulness of forgiveness. Every 24 hours is new and every 24 hours is not a given. One morning, those 24 hours will be gone, and all that will be left of my life is the memory others hold of me in their minds. I want those memories to be filled with inspiration and hope, so I am going to let go of my anger.