A lot of days I am content. I hold my tongue (unless I’m hangry, then all bets are off). I think of the consequences to my words and my actions. I enjoy my life, and I am acutely aware of my privilege — my gratitude cup runneth over.
But there are other days…
I have, and always had, a bit of an issue with anger. Even as a child, I could get very angry. As an example, when I was three years old, my great aunt came to visit, and I attacked her with a flurry of little fists. Neither I nor my parents remember why, but they recall the incident. To be clear, I was not angry all the time. I could also be a happy-go-lucky, playful girl. How I met one of my best friends, and indirectly my husband to be was because of my anger. I was in high school, and I angrily slammed a locker and cursed in Russian. My now sister-in-law asked, “What language is that?” As I got older, learning karate helped a great deal with venting my anger in a controlled way. Later, counseling and my workouts at the gym were indispensable tools in dealing with anger and frustration.
But now the gyms are closed (or if open, only have inconvenient, limited workout time slots), and my long-time therapist has retired. And I am angry more often.
A part of my anger, a large part of it, stems from the fact that I cannot control other people. I want to, but I cannot dictate nor legislate my morality onto others, nor can I force other people to agree and abide by my truth. And mostly, I cannot abide stupid. Science deniers drive my up the proverbial wall (which takes a lot of energy, because … well, gravity). And it’s not that I actively try to educate people — if anything I do my best to stay away from people who believe the world is flat.
I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, except when that opinion is ignorant gibberish. And, for reasons unknown to me, everyone expresses these opinions, to me and the general world. So, I get angry. But, I do not feel entitled enough to tell them where to shove their opinions or that their opinions are so dangerously stupid they prevent me from sleeping soundly at night. Look, it’s your right to believe that the world is flat. However, it is simply your need to tell everyone and their cousin that the world is flat and if they don’t believe in your view, they will go straight to hell. A hell, let me remind you, that I do not believe in.
I propose a deal with the willfully ignorant — those who say, “I know what I know, so don’t even try to tell me otherwise.” For them, here is the deal: They promise not tell me their opinions, and I promise not to tell them, “Shut the hell up,” and smack some sense into them. They should follow the guidance of Mark Twain — “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
Of course, there are some safe-zone topics that never anger me. These are topics, that I will openly and patiently listen to and discuss with almost anyone. The first one is books. For starters, this person read a book. Who cares which book they read. I want them to tell me about that book they read. They can make a recommendation to me or ask me for one.
Number two option of anger-free conversation is about any and all TV shows, movies. Just don’t tell me about any episode or sequel that I have not seen. Then, we are back in the anger zone.
And number three option anyone can talk to me about is the weather. But they should be warned — I will probably not agree with them, and I refuse to stay silent about my love of inclement weather. And once you get me started, we may be here a while.