Greetings Friends and Neighbors. Being ever more a very simple man, any number of thoughts have been bouncing around the curiously violent blender that seems to have been my Imagination this week. It’s Saturday night (actually Sunday morning) and I’ve got a favorite Kenny Loggins album on in the headphones. That must mean it’s time to pour the week out in the glass and see what we’ve got. If you wanted to ride along, I’d enjoy the company.
One particularly troubling development was having to really manage my capacity for rage. And it wasn’t even that I was feeling rage that bothered me as much as it was the sudden intensity of it all. I was spooking me out. I’m not the ‘clear out the temple‘ kind of guy. Others do that far better than I. But couple that to an unsettling realization that my mind was viewing my calls for the rage to stop as being wholly non-persuasive. That’s when even I knew, I was in trouble. Having been on plenty of white water trips, Wednesday night at work reminded me of that shock moment, the one just before the next minute when you ‘know’ you’re out of the canoe and submerged in the boiling water with a bad case of full-power tilt into helpless rage.
I hadn’t been on-the-desk very long at all before I was having to address the aftermath of every other thing First Shift had done. See, that’s the part about being a seasoned warrior of Life. The shoddy nature of their work was branded as ‘new and improved‘. Well I’m sorry camper, but this time the catch phrase is reading ‘smaller and watered down‘. My professional assessment was the quality of the work was ill-informed at best and at worst, most likely smacking evidence of laziness. That’s fine for them, but I’m the one sitting here having to unravel all the foolishness and make it right before sunrise! It was our largest Customer who was going to be impacted and that’s never good for anyone. Maybe it was the cumulative effect of way too much overtime and far too little sleep, but I had ‘had it‘. I honestly felt like standing up from the desk and walking out – for good. No income? So what. I was exhausted by the lack of seeing any down-side to my fellow day-workers indifference so I followed E.T.’s example and do what I train to do in these kinds of situations. I phoned home.
My mantra went something like this: “Be patient. Be quiet. This time, it is the time to pay your dues and learn. If you know it, other people know it. These things have a way of working out.” Sage counsel, except in that moment, all I could think about was this odd holiday TV ad where a mom has found the perfect pink dollhouse. Do you remember what the sales person says in her close as she’s ringing up the mom. “Have a super sparkly day”. I couldn’t escape it. All the dicey problems of the workings of our business seemed to have a magnetic, if not god given gift for locking in on my frequency and position. “…have a super sparkly day”. Sometimes I hate it when that happens. Being Indiana Jones in the Temple of Lazy was not what I asked for when I took the gig. In the solitude of the desk during those moments wee in the morning, my mouth started spewing profanity in loud staccato outbursts as if coming from a garage in Chicago on Valentines Day.
So much for riding the waves at work like a captain of my own destiny. I am really getting to the point of no-return with them on what my career track looks like. All kinds of things happening, but not for me. What gives? Yeah, I’m the steady eddy but I don’t like not being consulted. Ask the people I love and they’re going to tell you in our own Midwestern kind of way that that’s just how Life and its rushing rivers work.
But that’s just it. I think what really may be scaring me most wasn’t being in the water, but feeling like there wasn’t anything I could do to save myself. Bam. And then you wake up.
‘…wait a minute. I AM in it. I am already wet. I’m not in the boat and I am no longer safe‘. Bringing that news bulletin back to my capacity for rage, it was a frightening nanosecond when I confessed to myself that a temper like mine is clever enough to bide its time and wait for just the ‘right’ moment to erupt and wipe out the peaceful village below. No control. Illogical. Dangerous. Not ‘me’. Scary stuff.
So what did I do?
Identify. I am no jedi, but it doesn’t take a mind trick to figure out what me and the fraternity of all that are guys already know. When a guy gets really stupid mad, it is often a hint that they’re feeling backed into a corner…no where to go, no options, no choice. So what do we guys do? We get mad. Sometimes, really mad. So thanks to the wisdom of some really gifted mental health pros in my past, I knew enough to do three things to regain my footing so I could get on with the identifying process.
First, I conjured up this cartoonish image in my head of me with my lips stapled together in an attempt to stifle the cussing grenades. It is so Adams Family goofy, right? But the image cracked a dark smile on my face…for just a second, but it did happen and that’s all that matters. To me, it stops the clock. It gives me a chance to take a breath. If I’m really scared, I’ll deep breathe like I do in my focus time each morning. I do that five times. Slowly and deliberately. I know this sounds so simple, but as we have already established, I’m a simple man.
So that done, the next thing was to actually take a flash inventory of precisely what was making me so fumingly angry. That’s what the call home helped me with. I have taught myself to know that I need to do this. But it also true that in the flash of the moment, there are moments when I don’t want to remember what I know. And the whole flash inventory technique is hinged on me knowing that if it takes longer than 30-seconds to do it, I’m thinking too hard. My childish temper tantrums weren’t like me at all. But if not me, who? Bam.
Next, I caught myself asking myself to specifically identify my pressure points. Who or what was pushing my buttons so hard? You condense Dr. Deming’s work down to ‘if you can measure it, you can manage it’. List built. And again you can do this in 60-seconds.
Next, another 15-seconds for each of two questions: 1) What percentage of my inventory list were things or other variables beyond my control? And 2) What percentage of them were not? And let me be very clear about this. A very real part of my brain was not wanting to do any of this. It wanted to take my breaths back and spew instead. So much better to obliterate the sleeping village below, right? Wrong. Identify.
Mapping, inventory or indexing – what you call it doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you do with it once you’ve slowed down enough to identify what you’re feeling.
But wait! There’s more –
Here’s where the blender comes back into it. I.D. ID? If you can identify it, you can manage it. Golly Beave, ID! That’s spelled just like the ‘Id’ that Freud talked about. Could that be the same thing?
Luckily, the woman in the third row just asked the same question. ‘Thank you Ma’am.’ While my Life has a long and winding history, it also informs my impulses. I step up to the cost of living an authentically integrated life. “’I’m sorry Ma’am. I wandered. Your question, oh that’s right…’What is Id?‘.”
I’ve read a lot of things on Freud’s conceptualization of Id. But once I had waded through all the academic psycho babble, I keep coming back to one passage that seems to define the term extraordinarily well:
“It (Id) is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of the Dreamwork and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of that is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations…. It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.” (*)
To reduce that even further, I think of it as everything we’re born with in the moments after birth. Noisy, messy and for all its beauty, as anyone who has ever had to come in to execute on a diaper change, often as aromatic in ways the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chooses to define as a hazmat situation.
But then there is another component…the parts that come with being a grown-up.
“Originally, Freud used the word ego to mean a sense of self, but later revised it to mean a set of psychic functions such as judgment, tolerance, reality testing, control, planning, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory. The ego separates out what is real. It helps us to organize our thoughts and make sense of them and the world around us.”
After I had ID’d my pressure points, my ego could go to work and do its thing in getting organized for success. That accomplished and everything snapped back into perspective. I’m back to full battle strength. All is good in my Soul. Idego.
And just when you start thinking its maybe safe to go back into the water, here comes super-ego.
“The super-ego works in contradiction to the id. The super-ego strives to act in a socially appropriate manner, whereas the id just wants instant self-gratification. The super-ego controls our sense of right and wrong and guilt. It helps us fit into society by getting us to act in socially acceptable ways.
The super-ego’s demands often oppose the id’s, so the ego sometimes has a hard time in reconciling the two.“
If anyone knows there can be overwhelming joy as often as there is crushing heartbreak sadness when it comes to reconciliation, it’s me. But I strive for it anyway. Illogical? Not really. It’s actually part of what fuels me to work so hard to provide. Rage is not my enemy. It has become a current I can ride to where Life needs me to be. What’s really cool is in your current thing, yours has crossed mine. Every time that happens, it creates a coordinate in time and space we both share. Think about how much stronger our hive is with that kind of molecular connectivity generating ever tighter intervals of pixel clarity. All kinds of things get stronger. And that’s what happened.
I woke up and realized how much I had to be thankful for in the ‘things I take for granted’ category. This New Year’s isn’t about resolutions for me. It is all about renewing my conviction to living a better life in the life that I already have. Bam. There it was again. Turn your eyeballs around and look at what you could do to help someone else on a regular basis. Maybe it’s taking care of a loved one and the toll that can come from that kind of duty. For others, it’s having enough to cover the rent and groceries and still have a cell. Kids stuck in the children and family services systems who are rotting as they wait to time-out. Ever been close to homeless? How about you spending a Saturday a month in support of Habitat for Humanity or a similarly purposed organization? I don’t know. I’m not that smart. I’m not you. But you do. Who knows you better?
What I do know is I know I’ll be OK. I was able to find Purpose in questioning my rage. Use it for good. So if any of this has struck a chord in you, I’m high-fiving you right about now. We’re all going to be OK. Again, it’s the bringing together part that matters. What that is for you is up to you.
But keep swinging…it does get better. How do I know? IDEGO always knows.
Thanks. I enjoyed the company. Go have fun.
Two sides of Fontella Bass, the late, great St. Louis soul singer: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-two-sides-of-fontella-bass-the-late-great-st-louis-soul-singer-20121227,0,3800701.story
and Ms. Bass performing:
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS:
Circle Tire View: http://tuttacronaca.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/libia-esplode-chiesa-copta-1-morto/; rafting-rangitata-5: http://yuppietravelers.com/2012/03/12/man-overboard-whitewater-rafting-on-the-rangitata-river/; capone6: http://www.prairieghosts.com/valentine.html; Owen,%20Allison%20Officer’s%20ID%20card: http://www.washingtonartillery.com/america.htm;
Pie Chart: http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00018S; You Bet Your Life BW: http://www.templetv.net/shows/you-bet-your-life/show-13-skin/; ET Tunnels: http://modernmommy.typepad.com/the_things_you_say/2010/03/quarantine-the-one-where-my-immune-system-makes-it-into-a-scientific-journal.html; nerve-repairhires: http://wallacebaine.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/2026/; PeacefulWoods: http://www.prestonrvrental.com/ (*) Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (Penguin Freud Library 2) p. 105-6: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego_and_super-ego
Originally, Freud used the word ego to mean a sense of self, but later revised it to mean a set of psychic functions such as judgment, tolerance, reality testing, control, planning, defense, synthesis of information, intellectual functioning, and memory. The ego separates out what is real. It helps us to organize our thoughts and make sense of them and the world around us.
Charles Durning – msdtoot-ec024-h-web: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/actor-charles-durning-dies-89-article-1.1227039
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