Worry, frustration and anger are common afflictions in the Human Race. We have all suffered from these to varying degrees of severity and occlusion at many points in our struggle through existence. The worry…frustration…anger… pour out of us like Basil Fawlty trying to serve wine at dinner . We are the subjects to these feelings that rule over our being. We try to control the outpouring of emotion that seems unbearable at times and find it difficult to rein in the strong antagonism we have towards the objects of this debilitating affliction. These emotions are often futile in the face of these objects and the futility is more pronounced depending on who or what the object is.
The person that we emotionally beat up the most is ourselves. Of course we do. We spend 24 hours a day together and often get frustrated by our weaknesses, failures and foibles. Our own selves are the easiest objects to reason with, to modify the focus of our anger, as subject and object are one and the same, ensuring instant dialogue and correction of behaviour. As every human knows, learning from our mistakes is easier said than done and talking to ourselves can be difficult especially out loud and when meeting our in-laws.
However, it is easier to change our own behaviour than that of others. The most willing and able to listen are friends and family members, especially our own children, although most parents may heartily disagree. If the actions of someone close to us are upsetting then we can confidently discuss our feelings with them or, as a last resort, remonstrate with them. This is more difficult than a dialogue with ourselves as we are trying to interfere in another’s way of thinking and being for our own benefit. This is easy if you happen to share a common motive or purpose at that point in time, but more worry can be caused if our emotional wires become crossed and fuses (as well as chances) are blown after a heated discussion.
This mismatch is more pronounced when strangers worry us. They obviously do not know our sensibilities and through their ignorance of our wants and needs they may further antagonise us. They are, more often than not, as approachable as a pitbull with a migraine at a drum and bass convention. They can’t or won’t listen to advice on how to stop hurting us in this way. These people are at best strangers to our emotions, having a different outlook on life. At worst they could just be plain malevolent with only their own interests at heart and uncaring of who they upset in the process.
An even more mysterious and frustrating object of our anger is the invisible stranger: the sneak thief, the vandal, the litterbug. The unidentified villain. This elusive soul is not even there to hear our vehement ministrations, let alone able to be counselled in their behaviour. The only advantage is that these people almost never cross our paths, making such types of frustrating worry rare. The worry seems more intense though, as we cannot even visualise them. Not even to put up a photo of them on a dartboard. We just have to let the authorities, or cape wearing vigilantes, to catch up with them and let Madame Justice get her sword and scales out.
Having been stung by bees and nettles and bitten by mosquitoes, the plant and animal kingdoms provide us with another source of frustration. These pests are even further removed from our sensibilities due to the vast differences in our genomes. Even a 4% difference between us and chimpanzees poses a problem especially if we are laying out fine bone china. These living things work on inherent natural instinct and cannot easily modify their behaviour without months of training by Pavlovian conditioning or even elaborate trellis work. There’s no chance of this with simpler organisms such as bacteria and viruses, who are not cut out to win Crufts. Most of the time we cure our anger by killing the offending creatures with a deft swat or NHS antibiotics. Until then, worrying is entirely futile as the offending beast would be impervious to human reason or choke chains.
Inanimate objects are even more frustrating than living beings at times. They thoughtlessly leap out from their place on Earth and beg us to stub our toes on them. Shelves, low lintels and light fittings suddenly appear to plead contact with our swollen heads. These objets d’annoyance cannot be trained or reasoned with making our anger almost entirely futile. The only recourse would be to move the pain inducing artefact out of harm’s way or to watch where we’re bloody going for a change.
The final, and some of the most popular, objects of our bottomless anger…frustration…worry are forces of nature: the Sun, Moon, the weather, planets, stars, the future, the past, God (other deities may be available; or not). We subconsciously have conflicts with nature constantly in our emotionally charged lives.
“Ooh, my sunburn smarts”
“The tides are too high for swimming”
“What has happened to the British summer?”
“Mercury is in Virgo and playing merry hell with my piles”
“I’ll never get married any time soon”
“What have I done to deserve this, [insert name of preferred deity here]?”
These forces and concepts are so far removed from us and so powerful that we are like Lilliputians vying for the soup tureen at a Harlem Globetrotters’ reunion dinner. We are specks on a massive planet in an infinitely more massive universe. Why do we worry about such things we have no control over? At least the previous culprits are forces to be reckoned with.
Why shake our fists at the moon? Why fight this losing battle with nature and those around us? Stop looking outside ourselves for someone or something to blame our woes on. They will not or cannot listen. Shut them out, look inside ourselves and deal with the rage inside. We will listen. We will learn as we learned to tie our shoelaces or never to eat avocados.
Let’s leave the moon alone, put those fists in our pockets and relax.