Friday, May 2, 2008

Little Things...

I've been noticing an interesting phenomenon recently, and I wonder if others share the same experience. It's the little things that get me going, far less than the big ones. Horrific expenses, global warming, the election campaign, George W. Bush, these things I can take with a certain equanimity these days. They seem to fall easily into the perspective of the larger picture, the long history of humankind on the face of the planet Earth. Perhaps this is the gift of several years of meditation practice, the daily simplicity of sitting quietly and watching the breath.

But the little things... ah, these can enrage me suddenly and without discernable reason: the screw that's lost its thread and won't come out, the light bulb that blows, the trip on a crack in the sidewalk, the damn toaster oven that will neither toast nor ove, the driver in front of me who has not the first idea how to make a left turn at the traffic light, a casual misspoken word, these tiny, meaningless events will cause a surge of rage and a stream of obscenities that takes me by surprise--and justifiably offends my wife!

Maybe that line of thought is right, that we each carry our own internal volcano, a reserve of overheated lava that we hide somewhere in our body and that erupts with fury when a tiny fault line happens to open up. Maybe it's the unhealed wounds of childhood that we have learned to hide away and keep tamped down until spontaneously released at a moment of vulnerability, when we're caught off guard.

Or maybe it's just me.

But I think not. I think about the words that Angela wrote in the piece I linked to yesterday--and cross-posted on Accidental Dharma--and I'm reminded just how deep those childhood wounds lie buried in the human psyche. I also went, yesterday, to catch a preview of a new art show called "Inner Battles of the Imaginary Male" at Andrew Shire Gallery and was reminded, yet again, of what I have learned about myself and other men in this regard. How much of the violence and the rage for power that dominate our global life today springs from that inner battle that many men have not yet learned to conduct appropriately, in the mind? Back to George W., then. A prime example of what it is I'm talking about.

But more of this later. I plan to do much more work on that exhibition, including an episode in my Art of Outrage podcast series. Meantime, I'd be interested to hear what others think...


roger said...

i wonder if it isn't the big things after all. perhaps a sublimated feeling of impotence in the face of the insults of "Horrific expenses, global warming, the election campaign, George W. Bush"

certainly those things deserve some rage. maybe a combination of those and the childhood psychic injuries keeps our internal lava hot.

or maybe that's just me.

robin andrea said...

I think it's a cumulative effect, and we find safer arenas in which to register our outrage. I remember a therapist telling me a long time ago that we trip over molehills, not mountains.

PeterAtLarge said...

Roger--yes, I do agree that those un-manageable big things give a context to the host of smaller ones; and that they deserve a lot of rage.

Robin--yes, molehills! What I'm talking about. Whilst, as Roger says, the mountains loom!