Rage lingers within

someone is being unnecessarily wounded.

That rage comes up for air.

If suppressed it expands

getting out of control.

A crotchety man mumbling about having to wait in line.

That blonde bitch, he blurts out.

But its not her fault.

She was just trying to use a gift card.

Cash machine malfunctioned.


I want to kick his ass.

But I stand down.

It’s not worth my time.

Don’t know the backstory

But there is always one or two or many.

I let it go.

Everyday Occurrences of Rage

On one of my infrequent trips to Costco, there was a person brushing her teeth in the Costco women’s restroom. She had several bags with her and appeared a bit disheveled. That was my quick observation. As I was walking out of the restroom, a woman angrily marched out to get a manager. Several Costco employees came walking briskly passed me.

I thought to myself, “Angry Woman” tattling on the “Disheveled Woman with Bags”.

I have little doubt Angry Woman felt her individual or family safety was in jeopardy. Making assumptions and muttering accusations about the person using the Costco bathroom as a personal space to clean up. I do not know the story of the “Disheveled Woman with Bags”. Was she homeless, maybe. Had she been working all day and was simply changing clothes and cleaning up? Was she suffering from some kind of trauma or mental health event and needed to be out of the public sphere?

It does not matter.

What matters is this individual was not bothering anyone. On the other hand, Angry Woman was disrupting everyone’s experience. Puffing herself up by taking action based on her own false assumptions. Pretending she was some kind of hero saving others from an imminent threat. Creating chaos where there was none. All because she had fear in her heart which bubbled up into rage and irrational anger toward an innocent human being.

People like this make me want to smack them upside the head and shout, “Wake up you fool, no one is threatening you here. Get a life.” I stepped back knowing the Costco employees would handle the situation appropriately.

The Rage In Me

I have written about my own internal rage, how and why it resurfaces from time to time. Especially when someone I know is being targeted or deeply wounded by the actions of another human for no apparent reason.

My empathetic nature is fueled by a bit of ego. Those feelings of insecurity because I am not able prevent all the wounds. My ego not realizing that I am not a savior to all. Secondly, exercising some faith that those targeted can rise up to the occasion or ask for help. Thirdly, the perpetrator may or may not get theirs somewhere down the road.

Karma comes around, eventually.

We all know how difficult it is to tamp down that ego. With enough personal experience, faith in ourselves and others, it is possible.

Letting it Go

Sharing the rage we experience is another way to let it go. Through art, words, music, activism, etc. we can connect with others who may have similar experiences. Anger experienced is real. Channel that emotion or it will come back one hundred fold.

We know this through the daily barrage of extreme rage induced acts, such as, mass shootings, physical abuse, rape and other crimes of sheer fear fueled desperation.

As a realist, I can see and feel that many people are walking around with a certain amount of harbored rage. It’s on their faces and in the way they hold their posture. Or the manner in which they talk.

I channel my own passive aggressive rage through internalized pain, slamming doors, stomping down halls, driving erratically, shouting at inanimate objects, flipping off some California maniac driver who cut in front of me on Interstate 5. Thankfully, I rarely engage in these channels much anymore, except maybe flipping off an occasional California driver.

Channeling Rage

Fortunately, many of us seek outlets that assist in letting go of this rage. And I don’t mean denial, or drowning sorrows in alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling etc. Those are surface treatments which do nothing to move the rage from within ourselves to the realities of our lives.

I use written words and visual art to bring my rage to the surface. When working through this process, there is an explosive use of brushstrokes across the canvas. Somewhat wild and seemingly uncontrolled at first. Just as if I was yelling at the curmudgeon in the grocery store for being such a jerk.

That initial release of emotion is exhibilerating as well as liberating. Which if I did yell at the grocery store guy, I may feel an initial rush, but it would not last. Plus I would make a spectacle of myself. Not my style.

As the nuances of my emotions or subconscious reveal themselves on the canvas, the imagery will often take on a softer range of subtle strokes, textures and tones. This is what happens when I do not respond angrily, but instead take a breath and remove myself from the situation.

When completing the work, there is a definite feeling of letting go.

My writing process is similar. I free write using streams of consciousness, run on sentence structure, getting it all out there without too much judgement. Then going back rearranging, subtracting, adding, refining, minimalizing to get to the crux of what it is I want to say. Once again, a sense of relief and release as I push the publish button.

Holding Grudges

I admit that I have held grudges against people who have wronged me or anyone I care about. What I attempt to do now is put myself in their shoes or at least admit they must have a backstory. One that might explain what prompted their actions. But often, like the man who shouted “blond bitch” to the woman in the store, I will never know that story. Instead those are fleeting moments meant to awaken us to everyday realities.

I must learn to accept the unknowns and move on.

What becomes essential to letting go or moving on from these grudges is remembering our time on earth is fleeting.

Reap what you sow. A mantra worth practicing everyday.

Image: Navigating The Shadows, acrylic on canvas

This piece depicts and was inspired by the neverending navigation of my past, present and future self (shadows) and environment. We can all choose to meet those shadows head on, dodge them, go around or under them. It is ultimately our choice and will set the tone for our daily existence. Reaping what we have sown.

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