Rage. Rage against the dying of the light.
It's arguable that Dylan Thomas was talking about death at long last in this poem. But, rage has moved in the modern era from the end result of provocation to the first response. This is bad for us.
When one is quick to argue, quick to jump to conclusions or quick to blame, that rage snuffs out joy like two wet fingers on a candle's flame. That rage, that small, petty, I'm-better-than-you rage fills us, blocking out even the possibility for warmth or reconciliation. We must wait to "cool down" before we can even consider such a thing.
It is not only our impending mortality that conjures up Fear's ugly little brother. In fact, it would seem that things with much less gravity can ignite the flame of wrath as it bubbles just beneath our surfaces. An extra few seconds- seconds!- waiting in traffic, the failure of another human in living up to our expectations or any opportunity where one of us "gets" to judge another - all of these scenarios are ripe for releasing our contemporary restraints and unleashing our rabid anger.
We must see the results as if detached in order to change this behavior. And, change we should, before somebody gets hurt. The news is filled already with the effects of overwrought and immature rage. Well, I am worth more happiness and I deserve to live a rage-free life. So do you. Yes, you.
So, here are the steps. Do them or not, as you see fit.
1.) Count the seconds.
So many times, I have said, "Come on! While we're young! Sometime today!" at cars ahead of me, while their drivers were making decisions. From now on, I will count the seconds that I have to wait. Is it really an hour? or is it more like 5-10 seconds? I think I have 10 seconds to wait while a seasoned citizen makes their way into a parking spot.
2.) Double check.
I am quick to judge when I hear something that doesn't sound right. Political, social, whatever. If it sounds like it's conservative, I am all too happy to judge the idea as fear-based white-mongery. I have found that when I check the facts, the speaker who inflamed me to begin with usually doesn't have a clue. Sometimes they do, and my research has afforded me the insight into a sound idea. I have learned that my gut is usually right for me, but there are always chances to learn.*
3.) Look in the Mirror
I have kids, so conflict is, well... let's just say I don't always handle it well. Nothing can enrage me faster than looking at a younger version of my very own f*ck you attitude. But, I have determined that what I need to do is stop relying on what I think I mean, and instead try to see what they see. Am I really speaking from experience, trying to help them avoid a preventable crisis, or am I just trying to manipulate the situation in an intrusive, domineering way? Understanding how they see it may not change my position, but it may afford me insight, which is always a good thing.
Out in the real world, I don't find myself in too many conflicts, but when I do, I'll try this technique there as well.
I'm hoping that making a conscious effort to do these things will make me a less stressed, happier person, (to be honest, I'm hoping it for you... I'm pretty calm as these things go). When you consider that we only get a short time on this earth, it seems kind of silly to waste it being all pissed off about things... especially things like how long a traffic light takes.
And when the time comes, and you stand before your creator with fists raised, saying ,"No! I won't go! Do not dim the light of this life! I have more to do!" You can unleash all of that rage and passion and make your case.
It'll have the same effect as yelling at the car ahead of you in traffic.
* Except from you people who think men and women lived at the same time as dinosaurs. You people are just crazy!