Anger is the emotion by which all life depends. Everything we create has its source in the emotions of passion and rage. The great artists of history never abandoned feelings of anger in their work. Instead, they used it as fuel-an indication that something of great importance had be created. The intensity of anger keeps the fire burning when we set out on a particulate project and, if properly embraced, ensures it is carried out to its finish. It’s common today for many of us to take on a negative view of anger, that it is something to be avoided and indicates something may be inherently wrong with us if we experience it. It is exactly this belief, of a need to suppress anger, that creates disorder and violence. Many young men I’ve worked with tend to be emotionally-repressed. They are afraid of their own anger and as a result behave in passive aggressive ways, showing their anger in subtle but destructive tendencies. They find that their avoidance of anger has deadened their quality of life and halted the creative process. Once the emotion of anger has been reintegrated, the person is able to create, to formulate, to take on the daring task of leaving one’s mark in the world.
Anger is a dualistic power. It can be used to destroy or create. For this reason, it is a primary emotion, not something underlining another emotion. An emotional state of frustration can well be telling us something must be created and you are the one chosen to do it, and it will tug at you endlessly until it its demands are obliged. We cannot afford to overlook something so natural and evident in everyday life.
More often than not we will find that our discontent with outer reality is a reflection of the neglected and unresolved yearnings of our soul. Our displeasure with some aspect of our career often points to a conflict or unresolved dilemma of our life’s purpose; a pattern of problems with particular types of people mirrors a hidden and ugly quality we would rather not face in ourselves; or a preoccupation with trivial fears and phobias may be set off by failing to surrender to a greater internal battle. A failure to engage in deep psychological work to find the origin of such external distress that really arises from within tends to lead us in an illusory path of seeking relief. We may habitually change jobs, partners, places of residence, religions, friends, etc- all at an attempt to be released from the debilitating internal struggle of psychological conflicts that most times erroneously reflect external circumstances, people, and events. These attempts prove to be futile in the long run as the person may seek release through extreme escape behaviors of severe isolation and compulsive habits. When we perceive there is no where to turn to, when life gets incredibly uncomfortable to bear, the result is the beginning of addictive behavior. Addiction is a desperate attempt to find release from external and internal conflict when resolution cannot be found- it is the mind’s most resourceful way of getting free from a build up of psychological madness that threatens to obliterate the little comfort that is left.
Addiction personifies a universal problem. Society is on the go and yet so stagnant, so fast paced and yet ridden with a melancholic disposition. We are going no where fast, tending to problems erroneously or superficially, fatally ignoring the cries of our psychological lives. The end result always being a series of temporary departures from reality where our lives and structure remain unchanged. Perhaps its time to reckon that we have missed the mark, that we’ve been looking for answers in all the wrong places and as long as we continue in the same direction, we won’t find peace but a disruption, or even worse, an obliteration of life.
Healing begins when we are tired, when we stop to say there is something wrong here, and perhaps it’s within me. Facing oneself honestly is painful-the mirror doesn’t change to our opposing responses or sensibilities. However, it is only through the undertaking of swallowing hard truth about ourselves and deciding to take action is when the possibility of a better life is made apparent.
Society demands the addict to “stop” yet has no real grasp on what recovery means to begin with. To a lesser degree, we all play out escape behaviors, saturating ourselves with unreality and ideals, falling into the traps of fabricated definitions of humanity. Yet we demand the addict to stop and do everything wrong to make him stop because the addiction, although more or less in all of us, is more visible in the drug addict. The remedy for any addiction is reality, a reality that questions one’s purpose, what the world is, and who or what created us— and in turn live according to such questions. But as long as we turn away from reality, we turn towards addiction and enable others to continue the path of a diluted and destructive existence.
We talk too much, often expressing what we think we desire rather than taking time to listen to ourselves… it’s no wonder we fluctuate between anxiety and depression. Our default focus tends to be on the anxiety producing concerns of what others are thinking or doing, on what should be or could be, and on what appears as the accepting consensus. All the while, the depressed soul withers from its unattended cries of purpose, identity, needs, and passions. It’s hard to explain this to the disquieted person. It seems it has become easier to increase dosages and wait in line for a prescription than to address the pressing matter of who we really are, what living is really about, and how to live according to our individual purpose. We live in a sedated society, medicated by detached practitioners who themselves, through ignorance, evade the real issues and causes of anxiety, depression, addiction, and other ailments.
Addiction pertains to all of us. Though the problem may not be substances or compulsions, the condition of addiction is universal and we all experience it to some degree. Every time we turn away from what is true, what is good, what is just, what is virtuous- we take another “hit” in favor of what seems gratifying. While it may seem harmless-to look away or evade your responsibility-it erodes the soul and gradually removes us from our nature of loving, caring, feeling, uniting, connecting, etc. Being unable to face the reality that we are living in contrary to our nature, we continue to turn away, drifting further into pleasures and distractions until anxiety, or depression, or crisis signals us to take action. Recovery is a return to the fundamental aspects of being a person… it is the state of answering life’s questions with action of what is good for the world and what is my responsibility in this given moment. Recovery limits or all together turns away from distractions and pleasures that get in the way of this responsibility.
I’ve come to realize that at the core of every relapse, underneath the distress and volatility of each craving, there is a sincere and desperate cry for reality… a reality tht lives out love, wisdom, and truth in its purest form.
All the rituals and practices of the major organized religions cannot parallel the moment a person hits rock bottom. There are no scripts, no pretensions, no rehearsed utterances…just a man or woman bearing their soul, pleading for healing, for answers- sending their cry into the void in hopes that Something or Someone will come. It’s miraculous to watch. You’ll never see someone as connected to their natural state as that. It’s similar to watching the miracle of birth. Being able to be a part of moments like this, I’ve discovered that there is something greater than ourselves watching over Its creation and I’m convinced loves us.
“Pick me up and throw me where you will. Wherever I land I shall keep the god within me happy…” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I’ve heard many stories from people in recovery dealing with obstacles, some so severe I wondered how they were managing to stay clean and sober. Some had lost their homes to foreclosure. Some were laid off from work. And some had even lost children to illness. In every account, the same statement reappeared at the end of each share, “But I didn’t drink” or “I didn’t pick up”… “no matter what.” These people were living proof that something profound had taken place within, a spiritual awakening. Though the external reality of their lives were constant and difficult, there was a wise and directing consciousness beneath what they presented. This consciousness was impenetrable- although their lives were shaken, they were far from broken.
Recovery is spiritual awareness. People become aware of the divinity within and make a decision to honor it on a daily basis. Outside circumstances such as death, divorce, and financial problems cannot influence the spiritual life within. Many people in AA refer to this idea as the “98 Burn”, a statement made on page 98 of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book text which states “job or no job, wife or no wife…burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone.” While our world may be shaken or everything seems to be crumbling down around us, we must acknowledge the god inside us, unfazed, smiling, and always willing to direct us towards the next step. Stability, healing, and recovery depend not on what happens to us but on the reckoning and daily practice of honoring the divine life within.
It’s surreal to think of how a thing, a substance, sometimes so small, sometimes invisible or pleasantly deceptive to the human eye can utterly destroy a life. Sometimes, these things appear to be beautiful in their rawest form. A swaying cocoa plant or a vibrant poppy add beauty to the fields they inhabit. It’s astonishing and at the same time unfathomable to accept the reality that these beautiful ornaments of nature-once they are separated from their original form and ingested-have the capacity to enslave and obliterate a person on every conceivable level.
I think of these beautiful intricacies of nature in their true essence…I think of the lives that were once whole and later became separated from themselves and the world because of addiction. This helps me understand that there is an objective and guiding principle pervading all living things: Nature and people thrive and are at their most beautiful in their wholeness, and this should never be tampered with…
Man envies every least deserving thing. He strives and dies for the things that should always be allocated at the background of reality. The promotion, the size of his home, his bank account, the attention given by others, where his kids go to school, where he dines and gathers- all take center stage and consume the pathway to his purpose. And nature which seeks to teach him how to live, how to be happy, is altogether ignored, kicked away like an orphan who incessantly begs for loose change and crumbs. He seldom ponders the trees that show him how to weather the inevitable storms, to stand strong through the turbulence, to accept harmoniously the place it’s been given, and to fall gracefully when it is time. It’s tragic that we often fall prey to the erroneous escapes of life’s struggles-the pill, the powder, the bottle, the dollar, the relationship, etc- through self medication and yet, often ignore the guiding example of nature. Nature stands still, stoically, through both the pleasant moments and drudgery of existence. It doesn’t rebel nor complain about what should or could be… it stands and exists in perfect harmony with what is and what has been given. If you’ve run out of answers, if there’s no more ways to escape left in you, switch your focus to bringing nature and life center stage and lessen your priorities on those things that hinder.
When we want to express our most profound sentiments, our rawest emotions, dreams, fears, or opinions in any given moment on any given circumstance, but fail to do so, we commit the greatest offense to the self. When we’re filled with a passionate idea but bite the tongue out of fear of being criticized or oppressed, it is the equivalency of self-mutilation-a denial of our unique creativity. In attempting to gain acceptance we lose the part of ourselves that earnestly seeks authenticity, the part of ourselves that yearns to find its place in the world. In turn, our vibrancy is diminished and our confidence withers. It is better to be daring and speak one’s mind risking ridicule and ostracism than to keep silent to appease the masses. The former you can quickly recover from, but the latter creates irreparable damage to the soul.