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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Targets of Our Rage

I’ve been thinking recently about grief and about heartbreak and about how a heart does not break all at once, like a glass dropped on a hard tile floor, but over and over and over again. The breakage of a material object is a one-time event. (Okay, maybe you glue it back together and drop it again, but the events are still each singular.) An aching, breaking heart may stop hurting for a while, but new pangs can come unexpectedly, sharply, deeply, at any time. That was one thought. Another is how much anger can be generated by grievous heartbreak, anger which so often has nowhere to go. I might feel anger toward a late friend or relative who “didn’t take care of himself” and/or with whom a relationship had suffered and not been repaired, but if I allow myself to feel angry with the dead I feel guilt on top of grief and anger. So either I add guilt to grief or repress anger. At present I grieve and fear for the future of my country, and there is anger there, too. Third thought: What I’m thinking now is that the anger of fear and grief can be repressed but not done away with by repression, and that means anger – even rage -- can erupt (like the pangs of grief that come on unexpectedly) at any moment. And it WILL find a target. The target will not be appropriate to the feeling at all, but the feeling – justifying itself – cannot be stopped. And so these days we Americans are like blindfolded archers, shooting arrows of rage in all directions. And if that doesn’t grieve you, I don’t know what will.

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