Your laundry. It’s locked in the Laundromat and you can see it, unmoving, in a top dryer. The sign on the door reads that the ‘mat closes at 8 PM. It’s 7:45 PM and you need those pants for work tomorrow. Annoyed.
You step onto the bus and realize you don’t have enough on your ride card. Crap. You fumble to find actual cash while other riders queue up behind you. The bus driver exudes distrust while you struggle to add money to your card using the ridiculously complicated system. Finally, the driver says something impatient, and your eyes snap up. Aggravated.
You walk out of the building and
- Your bike lights have been stolen. Again
- Someone plundered the bungees and now there’s no way to keep your basket on the bike
- Someone tried and failed to remove your front tire
- Your basket was ‘mistaken’ for a trash receptacle
- You bike isn’t where you (thought) you left it
Anger. Fear. Compounding, splitting like atoms.
You’re eleven years old. You stand on a corner in your neighborhood, not doing much of anything. A car whizzes by and a young man leans out the window to holler the N word. Shocked, you pause in confusion, listening to the hysterical laugher recede as the car retreats. At first you think the slight will slide off; instead it permeates. There’s an almost audible click and you are rushed with random childhood injustices, more focused micro-aggressions against your color and gender, your own American slavery lineage, and the rush becomes a deluge, you’re experiencing not just your own but drawing from a ground spring, a geyser of . . .
I remember September 11th. I worked at a dotcom and the news of the towers, fire, and terror spread slowly around my office. As the story evolved from accident to intention, no one could concentrate. TVs came on. My co-workers stared in horror and someone said, “I don’t understand how a person could do this.”
The desire to inflict deep, unassailable pain, the planning, the getting on those airplanes, the flying –I found none of that imaginable. Horrific. Repellent. But when I looked inside myself, I realized I understand how rage grows. How it collects, fuels, feeds. I watched the country take a deep dive into that rage, post 9/11. We flailed, grieved and struck out. I wanted to go back to that conversation with the co-worker and ask, haven’t you ever felt . . .
You’re no longer you. A vessel. A conduit. You’re at service to however it manifests, whatever looks like. You’re the place where hurt and outrage and fear and grief swirl, twirl, bubble, punch, jerk, get good and mixed. Then you reach down and borrow from someone else, maybe many someones so together you can
Scare the heck out of everybody. Including yourself. Hurt somebody. Maybe yourself.
From small slights to the catastrophic, it’s there. Rage is equal opportunity. It’s rarely right-sized. It’s patient. Will wait years for you to step unwittingly. You can try to press it down, rationalize it, breathe it away but sometimes it’s just like . . .
In the next moment, your world is different.