Get Mad: Respecting the Fire Within

I woke up this morning with a fire in my chest; my mind racing like it always does. Anger and panic appeared to consume me in flames from the inside out.

I have some idea of where it comes from. As much as I have been telling myself to “trust” that I will be able to handle what comes next, it feels like a lie. My mind is like “Hey, everything is going to work out” but my body resists this thought. It has a perfect memory of the stressful times that have come and gone. The trauma. I know this burning sensation in my chest is my body’s way of protecting me, of letting me know to not let my guard down too much.

Instead of springing out of bed and manically getting started on the ambitious to-do list for the day, I turned on my lamp. I opened my journal. I let the anger and panic find another home on its pages. I wrote out all of my fears in the present moment. My frustrations. Next, I made our bed, put a few dishes away, and rolled out my yoga mat before I had time to re-think whether or not I should do it. I admit during my yoga practice it didn’t feel especially calming. I was uncomfortable. Sticky. Stiff.

By the time I sat down to enjoy breakfast, some of the chaos had settled. I especially noticed this while sipping on my coffee and staring at the window. Our apartment, silent. There was a peacefulness that found me in this moment as I realized I was alive, that I was safe — calm and still. I enjoyed the creamy taste of my coffee and the gentle sunlight streaming through the window.

It feels like a constant battle, everyday. Wrestling with the anxious parts of me — my worrying engine, carrying me away first thing in the morning. I’m crying as I write this because it’s a pain I live with everyday. I long for a day where I can wake up with ease. Where my dreams at night do not haunt me with tales of boundary violations and precarious situations. I long for a day where my internal tensions can be relived for some extended period of time and I can enjoy a more frequent habit of peace.

However, I am told that what resists, persists. Perhaps I should think less about stopping these thoughts completely and coming to them from a place of acceptance. This is part of the path of letting go…

I feel like that there is nothing wrong with the way I’m responding to the wild world we live in. I think it’s healthy to want to run away from it all, as someone who perceives deeply. I’m “awake” enough to care about the state of the world. The anger and internal tension I house inside is a passion for radical transformation. This discomfort tells me that the state of the world is not good enough and I must do something to make it better, for myself, my global community, and for future generations. It is a heavy burden to feel like the fate of the world rests on your shoulders.

Someone once told me that being a teacher is more like helping children cross a narrow stream, instead of moving mountains. I refuse to accept this. I’m angry, fiery, passionate — just like my mother, a thought I don’t want to admit. It brings discomfort to me regularly and many days I wish I could wake up without that fire burning. But, without this fire, I would not be the force for change that I am. I would not be as uninhibited in my expressions of creativity. Without this fire, I would probably be sitting behind a desk somewhere, plugging away at a spreadsheet, instead of wholeheartedly teaching young people — taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy.

To close, a few golden words from The Network:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot — I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. (shouting) You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’

I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell — ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’

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Terra Filha

Terra Filha

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Daughter of the earth, living in Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Mississauga territory.