I was “irritated” with someone and so decided to do some errands to let this go and get into a better mood. I went out to Trader Joe’s (always fun) and Staples, had enjoyable interactions, came home. I pulled up to the garage in the dark, reached for the garage door opener on the visor – it wasn’t there. Felt all over, turned the inside car lights on, couldn’t find it. Got out and went to all car doors (in the dark) but from no angle could I find where that darn thing might have fallen. I usually try to keep a flashlight in the car but, of course, not now. I always enter my house through the garage, so now I had to find plan B To get in. Found my back door housekey in the dark, in my purse, went up to the back door, but -oh no-I’d locked the thin storm door from the inside. Weather had turned nice, I had pulled the screen open on the top, left the heavy door open for awhile and locked the outside from the inside. Could not get to the lock through the locked screen door.
Walked around to the front door, trying to be optimistic that this key might open the front door. In the dark, gave it a try. No luck.
How to get into my house? I guessed, must try a window! Nice weather had brought window-opening: which one might be easiest to get into? I decided on the corner dining room windows -low and often loose. I clamored through the vines, aware that I saw poison ivy there last fall. Usually people are out on the street jogging, walking dogs etc. But all was dark and quiet now. This was good and bad: No one would see me try to get through a window, but I was on my own.
I tried the first window: no budge. Went around the corner: this was probably my last hope! The window was open far enough to push on the screen and the bottom of the screen pushed in. But no further; the screen did not want to just gently fall inward for me, no. It did not want to give at all and this, of course is good news for me, if there were someone else trying to enter my house! But for me here now, bad news. Well, I would have to bend the screen, maybe damage it. I had been carrying my cane with me so I gave that screen a good shove with hand and cane and somehow it fell forward.
The window was just a little high off the ground for me, short as I am. I leaned in, pushed the big floor plants out of the way. Tried to get one 76-year-old leg up over the sill but this was definitely a no go. Leaned in. The window seemed just a smidgeon tight. Was I going to have to just fall on my face inside, butt in air, pull myself in? Looked around, still no one anywhere, either to see or to help. At this point, independent as I am, yes I would have asked for help.
I finally realized what I had to do. It’s what soldiers do as they charge forward in war – one has to get your energy up for the job – anger is the best. I turned my problem-solving mind off, and from my pocket of past skills I pulled my swear words; then mustering together anger and energy and determination and not even knowing how I did it, I just – “did it!” I have no idea how, but I got through the window and was kind of stumbling forward on the floor.
Actually, I felt pretty calm. I rearranged the plants and then went to the garage and pulled the car in.
From there, I went to my computer, emailed the person I’d felt “irritated” with that I did not want to feel angry and argumentative – they could feel free to do X as they chose; I don’t want to be an angry argumentative person, I do not want to be that kind of person. I felt at peace and went to bed.
Next day I went to the car and looked around for the missing garage door opener. Where could that darn thing have jumped to? And lo, there it was, on the visor where it was supposed to be but facing the wrong way!
What to make of this?! It was hysterically funny, and yet – puzzling. The ending turned a funny experience into a puzzling one. Kind of like a Zen koan or a parable that leaves something unfinished in your mind. Something about the irony made it all seem “set up.” Had some “teacher” set this up for me to learn something here? “Grasshopper, think on this!”
Ultimately this is what I see: While being angry is not a healthy state to permanently be in, there may be times when only anger will get you through. There are times when one actually needs to get MORE angry in order to get oneself to do what needs to be done. Or life needs to make you more angry!
I always remember both the feeling of embarrassment and of freedom that I felt when I first let myself “swear.” My children were little, the work was more than I felt up to, and I just let it out. It did feel – wonderful! Nothing quite matches that counter-cultural release.
As toddlers we learn to speak by listening to the adults around us. As I grew up, I did hear both my dad and his dad swear. My mother worked endlessly to get my dad to stop – “Don, don’t say that in front of the girls!” Eventually he did stop swearing – out loud, at least. But then he’d go huffing and puffing around the house when he was mad and no one knew who he was mad at! And Grandpa – it seems in my memory that gruff old grandpa never opened his mouth without something foul coming out with whatever he said. He’d endured a lot of misfortune, and maybe it was part of his French Canadian backwoods character, I don’t know. But I did know those words when I needed them!
And I did know that I could get through that window! I could feel myself on the other side, it would not be impossible, it would just take much more than my ordinary determination. I stepped into an alter ego, allowed myself to be different, and wow! What I could do in my different self! Something in me feels freer now and glad to have felt all my power; I will remember what I am truly able to do – when I want to!