What I love about Michelangelo’s sketches is the different sides of humans he manages to brilliantly capture. Like these two images I put together of anger and calm. People say one cannot be appreciated without the other. Perhaps that’s true – without having experienced rage, can one truly strive for calm?
If the rage comes from things life throws at us that make us angry, maybe the calm comes from accepting that life does this, and will continue to do this, and that ultimately our peace of mind is in the way we react to it. Or don’t react. It’s not up to life. It’s up to us. Our ultimate challenge in life.
Like when people cut us off on the road. When my husband and I go for drives, we have to agree beforehand that we won’t react to anything. Let people cut us off, flip us off, act however they want. It’s their issue, not ours. We will not react. It’s very difficult. We’re conditioned to react. And we’ve both had life throw things at us to make us angry, which is behind my writing Gothic novels.
But we’re realizing that we have a choice. We can hold onto that anger and let it define us, or we can let it go. What happened in the past isn’t going to change. But it’s over. We need to learn to let it be over.
Of course, it’s complicated. We find ourselves reacting to people and speaking to our own kid in ways that are colored by our own negative experiences, without realizing it. All we can really do is think afterwards about how it affects our kid, and how it reflects experiences that have made us angry and unhappy, and decide to be mindful of it going forward. I will not be defined by the past is one of my regular mantras. I will not be like my parents. I will be better, less judgmental, kinder. And it makes me feel better about myself. Because when I act like those I didn’t like, I don’t like myself. That makes me angry with myself, hate myself even, and it taints my perception of things and my behavior towards others.
Recently I visited an old, dying relative who clings to things from the past that eat him alive. And he’s dying. Really? I wanted to say. This is what you focus on as you die? I did say, “Let it go. It’s not worth obsessing over 20 years later.” And he said “I can’t.” It made me incredibly sad. For him and for all those who feel this way. Maybe this is a current awareness, what with meditation and mindfulness becoming fads. And people from previous generations just don’t know how, aren’t even aware that letting go is an option. But for me, it has become a goal. For my own sanity.
To end with a quote that totally hits the mark: “You either get better or you get bitter. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.” – Josh Shipp, award winning speaker on teen issues and bestselling author. Well, we’re not teenagers. But there are issues that permanently stain our lives, way past the teen years. And it’s really not simple at all. But we owe it to ourselves to try to get better, to find the calm, don’t we?
Sorry I haven’t written in a while! I’ve been totally bogged down with marketing my current book and writing the next one in the Owl Manor series! Peace.