Turn anger to dancing
Highlands TodayThere is a rhythm to the world. The sun rises and sets and rises again. The seasons come and go, always in the same order. Planets revolve around the sun and stars move within their constellations. It's what philosophers used to call "the music of the spheres" - that grand cosmic dance that no one can change.
Published: October 18, 2009
Published: October 18, 2009
The ancients believed that, if they tried, people could teach themselves to "hear" the music and somehow attune their lives to it, and that in so doing they would find true peace and perfect purpose. Astrology grew out of that ancient scheme and some people still think there is truth there.
Most, however, believe that peace and purpose are, as Shakespeare put it, "not in our stars but in ourselves." That may be closer to the truth, but it still doesn't give us the means to find those elusive ends. It only suggests where to look.
People today, as in all ages past, spend their entire lives in that grand search for significance. I believe few ever find what they're seeking. I also believe that, for most people, their personal search is revealed in the way they choose to handle one primary emotion - anger.
Humans display anger from the earliest moments of life. Babies emerge from the womb screaming anger at that unknown force that so rudely spewed them from a familiar cocoon of comfort and security into a foreign kaleidoscope of chaos and insecurity. And it goes downhill from there.
Coping with anger in all its many forms (frustration, fear, jealousy, hate, depression) is the essence of living. All those emotions are either born of anger, or result in it. How we cope with them is what forms our individual pursuits of the "music of the spheres." It's what separates the men from the boys, or, should I say, the musicians from the tone deaf.
For most people the pursuit leads to destruction, one way or another. For some, the anger is directed toward their physical surroundings. They have tantrums, throw things, break things, crash cars, etc.
Some people direct their destructiveness toward other people. They spread gossip, betray trust, disobey parents, break promises, steal, lie, cheat, etc., handling their anger (fear, self-hate) by inflicting it on others. Some of them even become spouse-beaters and child abusers.
Finally, there are those whose anger becomes self-destructive. I believe most people fit in this category. Some become alcoholics, drug addicts, anorexics, chronic gamblers, morbidly obese, depressed, or insomniac. But most, as Thoreau suggested, simply "lead lives of quiet desperation."
For all these types, learning to channel destructive anger into something constructive is a step in the right direction. People whose anger makes them break things can learn to turn shards of glass into Tiffany lamps. People who break other people can learn to vent through activities like kick boxing or karate.
Folks whose anger turns inward can seek assistance from self-help groups like AA or Gamblers Anonymous or from psychologists, counselors and pastors.
But what about those who live in "quiet desperation?" Isn't that really all of us?
We can find solace, peace, and purpose only when we realize that the "music" is not in the spheres, nor in ourselves. It's in reaching out to one another and, together, following "the Lord of the Dance."