I’m listening to Brene Brown read her book, Rising Strong. And it feels like she wrote the entire thing specifically to address issues I struggle with. What I find most compelling about Brown is her honesty about anger. She talks about how often her first response is anger. In our culture, we rarely acknowledge women’s anger. We don’t talk through why we get angry, and what anger is a cover for. What is anger telling us about ourselves?
Anger is most likely to be my response when I feel certain, and righteous. I know ALL ABOUT THIS. I know what everyone’s intentions are, and I know why everyone is behaving like this, and I know what it all means.
I take long walks every day. And as I get older, I’ve realized that those walks are a kind of time out that I give myself to process my experiences. If I’m upset, I have to articulate to myself what I’m upset about. Is it an upsetting thing, or is it a regular thing but I am out of resources to deal with it? Is it something I need to take some time to process?
The block before I get home has a high wooden fence with some totally illegal barbed wire on the top. And every time I get there, I have the same reaction, stolen from one of my favorite Wes Anderson movies, Moonrise Kingdom:
“Was he a good dog?”
“Who can say?”
Is my anger about this real? Is my anger about this worth it? Is my anger about this an old lizard-brain reaction that I’m having because I’m still determined to fix things, and then get disappointed in myself for getting in the way of other people’s stories?
Who can say, man? Who can say?
What the fuck do I know? I know a nap will make me feel better. I know this walk has made me feel better. I suspect that tomorrow, I’ll be surprised by how much time I’ve spent on this issue today. And maybe it is real. And painful. And hard on my spirit. Maybe it’s overwhelming. Maybe there’s nothing to be done, and what I’m struggling against is this sense of helplessness.
Who can say?
I don’t really know anything. I have so many theories, and I have profound curiosity about the world, but I find relationships deeply mysterious. That is the best and worst part.
Who can say? is how I save space for myself to love without knowing. I just don’t know. Are people doing the best they can? Who can say?
I don’t have all the information. Or even most of it. But I suspect we are doing our best with the tools that we have. As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
As usual, I’m talking about grace. You deserve some. Especially on those days when you want to burn the world to the fucking ground, but don’t, because your dogs live here, too.