Every week around Sunday I panick. It's time to get the newsletter out, and nothing gets written yet. "It's ok, things will get done somehow." A part of me assures. He is right. I know that I care enough to get it done.
More importantly though, it has to be done firstly out of love, not of fear or obligation.
It is quite scary to realize that something that we have initially chosen to do out of love can become a source of panic.
That's when we become the prisoner of our own systems - routines, habits, self-imposed deadlines like "It's Sunday, I have to do produce something". It is too easy to forget the original purpose.
As such, I took a long moment to check in with myself on the Why. A bit too long even.
I write to invite a deeper and different way of seeing the world.
Writing is about setting up a context for other to experience.
Like putting together a small room, good writing starts from gathering good material or "energetic stones" as the prolific writer Gerald Weinberg said.
To do that, I myself need to listen with a different instrument in addition to my overly active mind: the heart.
This week, it wants to inquire into its own anger and how it connects with the larger anger of the world.
Sharing is sprouting.
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Anger, revisited [excerpt]
Anger, like fire, can burn. But sometimes it’s worth staying close still.
It was only until a personal retreat three years ago where I truly could meet, understand and make peace with my anger. Being with it more fully has taught me one obvious but important insight: It hurts.
In that uncomfortable silence, I saw the damage that anger has wrecked on the tender, helpless crying child inside me. The hurt was so much that it broke me open to the point of exclaiming to him “Oh dear, what have I done? I’m so sorry. Please forgive me”. An genuine apology was exactly what that young child needed to hear. It was also the first yet most scary step that the improvement-driven, type-A in me had always resisted, like an angry man who clings on to his righteousness and refuses to apologize.
What followed was a powerful reconciliation and a personal vow: I commit to treat myself with love and care. I have known directly the pain one could wreck on oneself, and I do not wish to bear it anymore.
Now I’m understanding why many spiritual traditions, especially Buddhists, emphasizes compassion as an antidote to anger.
To become less angry, we may try to get stronger so that nothing flinches us. Better yet, we can remember to take a deep breath to relax. But if we truly want to see through and transform anger, we need compassion — with oneself first and foremost. It is the practice of being with oneself, feeling what one feels, holding it, accepting it and then doing something about it.
Once we really feel the hurts inside, we became so much more attuned to them everywhere else. We tasted the pain, and we wish to not cause it anymore to ourselves or anyone else. That desire motivates us to understand the root of where anger came from.
I must accept that without a clear stance, there is no friction. Without friction, there is no fire. Without fire, there is no life.
Just imagine the fierceness of a mother who sees her child being threatened: you don’t get that heated for something you don’t care about. That is why I admire people who dare to love fiercely, like many activists such as Joanna Macy and her wild love for the world. People like her care, and they do so with wise discrimination. I know that quality is in me too, waiting to be uncovered. Even the anger I directed inwards for not being strong enough comes from a yearning to take a stance and do something to make our world more beautiful, starting from the conflict-laden family life.
At the end of this long contemplation, I still haven’t conquered my anger. I’m still afraid of it —both expressing and taking in. The difference though is that once in a while, I’d venture a bit further beyond myself, to care a little bit more. In doing so, I’m open to anger too.
We may not be able to control when anger arises, but we can learn to care more about things worth caring more so that whenever it does, the fire will stoke up something that truly matters.
Btw, I'm also offering a free conversation to chat with me if you feel like you are going through a trying times and need someone to accompany, clarify and keep you encouraged :-) Do reach out, please.