Does the thought of anger make you mad?

Is the subject of anger so infuriating, threatening, hideous in itself that virtually any mention of it will, sooner or later, stop conversation?

Likewise, the subjects of apology, repentance, forgiveness.   Do these of necessity, except, among a small, select, wounded population, induce squeamishness and avoidance?

“May I play Devil’s Advocate?” she asks, and without waiting for so much as a nod says “Here’s another either/or.   Either your intensity, self-righteousness and over-sensitivity on any subject go beyond the boundaries most people consider decent, made worse by a relentless demand for response, stated or strongly implied, put people to silence, just to make it stop.  Or, if what you write is like… oh, never mind.”


“You freak people out, and piss them off, when you… you know, when you act like yourself.”

Hmmmm.  Good to know.  I’ll try not to act like myself so much.

“That’s not what I mean,” she says.

Corporations are people, with feelings too, sniff, sniff, you judgmental, insensitive bastard.   Is that what you mean?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she says.  “I mean that you might like to think you are not an angry person any more, that you have made great progress in that area, gained important insights you’ve had the courage and persistence to act on and are just currently frustrated, discouraged and trying not to wake up and smell the napalm, but that doesn’t mean….”

Hold it right there, girlfriend.  I was in the middle of a long discussion over the roles of genetic predisposition, nurture and  conscious effort to change innate personality traits one is unhappy with.  The correspondence reached a certain point and then abruptly stopped on the other end.  Silence as loud as the other person yelling “Silence! Enough!” [1]  

I stumbled on this line in my notes last night:  “the most insidious enemy of death benefits [taking positive lessons from the lives of even difficult departed loved ones–ed.] is the pervasive assumption that personality is fixed by midlife.” source

“Maybe your correspondent believes this pervasive assumption fervently, or hopelessly, as you might say, and has proven to his own satisfaction that struggling for any kind of positive personality change is futile and is just tired of your 2,000 word meditations, your opinionated self-regarding back and forth about the importance of doing things he feels are futile at best– particularly in light of your objectively depressing circumstances and lack of prospects for changing them any time soon.  Maybe he’s doing you the kindness of not telling you he finds these attempts to justify your life particularly distasteful.   Maybe he’s protecting you by not calling you on what bullshit virtually everything you say is.”

Dad?  Is that you, you rascal?

“You will find, son, when times get tough, that I am everywhere.  But let me assure you of this: you have made progress, and if I was still alive, still enlightened by the regrets I expressed on my death bed and my wishes to have lived differently, been, in fact, more like you, I’d be very proud of you.   Proud that you continue to believe in what you feel is right, in spite of the difficulty of it, despite the deliberate and inadvertent deafness of virtually everyone you encounter these days.”  

Must be easier for you these days, to say things like that, being a skeleton.  

“Oh, I can’t tell you how much easier it is, now that I’m just bones with dirt between my smiling jaws.”

[1]  Of course, another obvious reason for the gap in this particular case is the present lack of time required to thoughtfully reply in a life I know to be particularly emotionally complicated at this moment.   This goes as well for each of the other several cases where the subject of anger has been unveiled and then left to languish a bit.  –ed


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