Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rage and Love

I was driving out of a store's parking lot, while an old geezer, who was driving poorly, did likewise. He became confused, reaching the (incorrect) conclusion that I'd cut him off so I could exit first.

The guy absolutely flipped. Started honking his horn and screaming out his window at me. It was so over the top that I grew alarmed - worried he might be having some sort of medical problem. So I backed up until my car was parallel to his and opened my window.

No medical problem. He was howling and screaming and cursing at me, his face twisted and red. I waited patiently, then asked, mildly, "Do you always scream at strangers?" His response "No! Only at @#$*s like you, you mother@#$@#ing @#$@ $#@$@#!"

I completely understood how he'd misconstrued things, so there was no call for me to get my own dander up; I just waited for him to finish so I could explain the misunderstanding. But my calm patience only goaded him further, his fury finally reaching a point so over-the-top, so urgently personal, so operatic, that the encounter had come to feel, in the strangest way, incredibly intimate.

It dawned on me that I've never in my life had anyone share quite so much with me. He was hemhoraging his vital energy, shooting stress toxins into his bloodstream, showering his presence and locking his attention, all for a total stranger. It struck me as a staggering display of generosity. I recalled the phrase "I'll give him a piece of my mind!". But it's really heart, I think, not mind. When we get angry at someone, we give them a piece of our heart. It's bewilderingly tender.

When witnessing rage - in yourself or in others - if you can dispassionately disregard the facial expressions and the semantic meaning of the words being uttered, it's clear that rage is love filtered through a colored gel.

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