Raindrop dancing

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

I was standing in line at the local UPS store, waiting for the woman in front of me to stop shouting at the poor fellow behind the desk. Her fury was escalating as she refused to accept the reasons her package was late. When she finally stomped out and it was my turn, I sympathized with the man. When he told me that the week before a customer threw a cup of hot coffee at him, we shook our heads in a “what is the world coming to” way.

Are the people of today angrier than others in the past? Is this just our unfortunate time on earth or do today’s lightning-fast communication tools make us more aware of what has always been there?

The Ancients had some thoughts on this. The Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

The Stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius said, “The best answer to anger is silence.” The Bible tells us “….be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (Ryrie Study Bible, New American Standard Translation, I John 1:19-20)

I love a good quote the same as the next person; there is wisdom in the words, but I still need a way when I’m angry to remember those words, a way that will help me not be the person carrying the hot coal.

As I was thinking about this, I glanced outside. The sun was shining. It’s been raining off-and-on all week, and the sun was irresistible. I closed my laptop, went outside and got a glorious mile in before the rain came back.

Coming back inside I felt that spark of optimism that always occurs after one of my walks. I knew that optimism would see me through a good portion of today, and with that I had my answer. In the long run, everyone must find their own way around anger.

We all react to situations differently, we have different personalities, different health, different wants and needs. We are all different, but we all have activities that bring us joy, comfort, satisfaction; activities that build us up, giving us a cushion against which to land and helping us control our anger.

People lash out when they are tired, feel unjustly accused, taken advantage of. We all experience bad situations, but when those situations are seen through the eyes of exhaustion, debt or family cares, they can become distorted. Having a strong cushion can give us a place to land, a remembrance of peace, satisfaction or love we can fall back on.

I plan to nurture my cushion, letting go of some of my perceived daily “must do” list and making space to talk to a friend, go on a hike, participate in whatever it is that brings me joy. I want my cushion full of happiness and contentment so that when the rain comes, instead of standing there getting wet, I’ll remember to, as lyricist Michael Nesmith wrote, “Dance Between the Raindrops.”

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.


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