Monday, October 06, 2008

On Rage: Some Thoughts on Recognizing Fire

This is a working draft of a story that I'm interesting in exploring for thematic purposes. Rage, Fear, Love, Compassion, Desire, Anger are so closely connected in my spirit. This is my attempt at simply seeing some of this in a healthy light...

I just came from having dinner with my friend April. April is amazing. April is a dancer. She's a choreographer. A visionary. An artist. A seer. A communicator on so many levels. Words. Body. Spirit. Jah! Amen.

April is having an interesting go of things. As a Professor of Dance at a Minnesota university, she's faced some interesting times this past year. In the midst of the dance program being cut, on the last day of her teaching in the spring semester, she fell in her classroom, tore all the muscles in her shoulder, and ended up having to wear a brace for the better part of the summer. She has not been physically free to make dance, to do the one thing she is most passionate about on the planet. She has not been free to do the one things she feels most called to do. It's frustrating. And now, five months after her injury, though she's back at work teaching, she has learned that for her body to heal, she must have surgery. She must have 3 screws put into her shoulder. And again: her body is not allowed to do the thing that her spirit and mind want to do the most: dance, make art.

We are talking this eve, April and I, at Mid-town Market, over a Ramadan Special and Pham Vietnamese Deli dinner, and I hear in this good friend of mine, these words that I find so utterly resonant: "I'm just kind of bored. I can't get excited about anything. Not the election. Not dating. Not getting a new job. No, the one thing I want to do: I cannot."

I start laughing. Not at my friend, but at life. At circumstances. At the jacked up nature of how this world goes. At how these words of hers ring so utterly true in my own body.

For years, I have felt clear. I have been on fire. I have been passionate about what I am to do. I have felt God calling me and pointing me toward one thing: Partnership. One. Person. Male. Lover. Sharing a life. With me. Building something. Committed. One thing. That's it.

And it makes me laugh, at how ludicrous it all is. This desire business. I can do a lot of things. I can teach. I can write. I can temp. I can travel. I can go back to school. I can volunteer. I can babysit. I can clean houses. I can read. I can meet new people. I can go dancing. I can date. I can clean my closets. I can simplify and downsize. I can renovate my house. I can plant a garden. I can pray. I can sell my house. I can budget. I can learn about retirement planning. I can study the economy. I can study politicians. I can meditate on leadership. I can work out. I can be the best woman I know how to be. But can I make a partnership happen? Somehow, it seems it's the one thing that just is outside my "control" - my grasp. And that little fact, has left me dejected in a way that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to give words to. Dejected. Rejected. Feeling utterly outside the realm of God. Outside of God's love and light. That's what it feels like. Whew. Dejected. Ain't no joke, this experience, this emotion.

When April is talking, I recall all of this. I hold the fullness of my past nine month's on this planet. And I feel overwhelming empathy. Whether this is really April's experience or not, I am cognizant of mine.

I recognize, still, somewhere, in the midst of moving to my new apartment, and getting clear about my trip to Africa, this kind of dejection has subsided. Perhaps I've let it go. (Mind you: the desire to partner is still there, but I've gotten back on this track to simply do what I can: Remain positive. Be faithful. Be a good woman. Be as loving as possible, be as studious as possible. Be as engaged and service-oriented as possible. And take my little steps. Hold my little light. Move forward.)

What comes to mind next, in this conversation with April: is my rage. I find myself talking out loud about terrorism. About my own inner terrorist, inner anger. (No lie!) About my disgust with today's news. About Governor Sarah Palin. About John McCain. About the most recent smears that Obama associates with terrorists. About my own desire to blow things up..... It's sort of surreal thinking on this conversation as I write this. I can see myself almost screaming. Mid-town Market. Holy Land Restaurant, and I'm enraged, going off about Governor Palin and the notion of Obama being linked to an angry 17 year old named Ayers who will go on to become a professor and help transform Public education in Chicago. I am pointing a finger and cursing.



April, quiet, listens, waits, and then says, "Yeah, how's that feel? Can you see your anger? Can you see it? Can you hold it? Can you hold your rage? What does she look like?" And in this one subtle gesture, she models for me what it is to hold this red hot emotion, as if it were a small child, in my palms.

And I start to cry.

We talk a bit more. I get clearer and calmer about myself. (My feelings of responsibility. My desire to make change. My need to communicate.) I listen to how this woman, my friend April has compassion for Governor Palin and the rest of the candidates, how she has compassion for me. And I am in awe of how she is able to be so wise and calm and tender and detached.

On the way home, driving down Lake Street, still reeling from all of these thoughts, I wonder,
"Where does my rage come from? Is it fear? Is it feeling separated from God? How connected is rage to arrogance? What? Do I think I know what is right? Do I have all the answers? Do I know that I'm supposed to marry? Do I know that Sarah Palin is unfit for office? What do I really know? Who am I? Who is God? How big is LOVE?"

I'm thinking this, and marveling at how alive rage can be in my body and what it does to me, how I feel on fire.

And then I hear sirens.

I'm driving down Lake street and behind me about 4 blocks are red fire truck lights swirling and sirens going off. And I wonder if I'm far enough ahead of the truck. If I can just drive ahead and avoid a pull over. But then I think better of it. We have to pay attention to such things. It's the law. It's good practice. And I ease myself to a stop, pulling to the right. And what happens? The fire truck pulls over the left, across from me and turns off his sirens.

"Oh, really?" I think. You just needed to catch up with me, eh? Just confirm the crisis that is so near, eh? I laugh to myself, and start to pull forward. Then, just because I think the universe likes to really kick my ass, or sort of kick all of our asses, the truck turns across the four lanes between his position and mine, and pulls directly in to park in my pulled over and paused spot.

Really? Really.

I think this truck came to the call of a fire, just like my friend April invited me out this evening and helped me see what has been so powerfully burning within me. Anger. Love. Rage. Desire. Fear. Hmmm.........

I am thankful for fire trucks. I'm thankful for my friend. I am thankful for pulling over. I am thankful for being so close, and yet safe, by these flames.


Brian Mogren said...

Thank you, thank you for your amazing articulation of not being in control. It resonates. Deep breaths!

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing about rage
it is just about the only emotion getting me out of bed lately
I appreciated your thinking about your own rage
it has made me think deeply about what is dragging me down so far lately

I cannot think very well in email. but I have appreciated your journey these last weeks,


Sister Katherine, VHM said...

ery very powerful, completely understandable and thank you for gettting it "out there." and letting us in. SK

Sr. Suzanne, VHM said...

dear melissa,
powerful.....rage.....recognizing fire.....i am working on a piece i will send's about power.....