The wooden sign hanging in my kitchen above the stove reads ‘Take time for what matters most’. Pacing up and down the walkways in the terminal of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport—after my flight’s second delay—isn’t exactly my form of what matters.
The longer you know me, the more you’ll hear me say the key to life is finding balance. Well duh. How many millions of times have we heard that? (Just picture yourself on a mountain-top overlooking some majestic scene chanting some unrecognizable words with butterflies flying around you as if you’re floating above the freakin’ clouds) HEY! Wake up! Welcome back. That’s right, you’re staring at this screen spending your precious time reading this freaking article. Balance, right? Maybe. Who am I to judge?
As I received the news of our second flight delay, I felt my anger rise up. I wanted to storm over to the women at the customer service desk and demand they go out, get my freakin’ plane and get me home. The idea of standing around with dozens of people I don’t know, in an airport where I’d rather not be, doing a job that frustrates the hell out of me, wasn’t my idea of balance—or was it? Life happens, right? This is my life; my moment; my time. Somewhere along the line I made a decision to be in this airport. The delay? Well that just happened (like another billion things in life do) and it was my responsibility—as they say—to make the best of it. Whatever.
Regardless of how many times I visit that mountain or how many times I sit on that rubber mat breathing and bending into positions that actually hurt sometimes, stuff happens—stuff that sucks—or, at the very least, inconveniences me. It always does and it always will because, well, that’s life. It’s my responsibility to take responsibility—take ownership—of my life. If I continue to blame, to point fingers, to accuse or redirect the responsibility, I’ll continue to lose more and more precious moments—casting them off as someone else’s fault. Before I know it I’ll turn around, be 70 and wonder where the hell my life went.
Finding balance requires an acceptance of the shit that happens in our life (read that again). Without that acceptance, it’s practically impossible to be (and stay) happy. There are a gazillion roads to this acceptance yet millions of us don’t want to walk it—we’d rather sit back and blame someone else for our misery; our discomfort; our un—luck. Why is that?
The concept of feeling our emotions, as simple as it sounds, is so foreign and so removed from our daily lives we’ve created barriers for our barriers—walls for our walls. The idea of sharing ourselves with another emotionally is practically taboo. Rather than talk about how we feel, our relationships are based on weather-speak and ranting about everything that pisses us off that day. We drink, we smoke, and we keep ourselves busy—we do whatever it takes to get past those annoying calls to feel. We’ve even simplified the process of feeling by creating little freakin’ emoticons to express ourselves ‘emotionally’. Don’t kid yourself; that does not work—at least by itself it doesn’t.
When life doesn’t go my way and I’m angry (remember the customer service desk?) I want to react. It’s what anger wants—that fight or flight thing has been around a long time for a reason. A big problem we’ve introduced into our society is anger equates to a bad thing—a negative thing—something that we don’t want in our lives. Perhaps feeling anger is scary, unfamiliar; dangerous. Maybe somewhere along the line we learned anger is something to be avoided and our parents instilled a message that being angry is completely unacceptable and only leads to ‘bad’ things. Maybe we learned we need to love one another and being angry only gets in the way of that. Bullshit!—It’s all bullshit.
Anger is a gateway emotion—an emotion that leads us to a deeper truth that we’re pushing aside. As an example, if I feel angry and I want to fight or flight (so long as there’s not a bear in front of me) I can often attribute it to some type of fear or sadness. In the case of the airport, after taking a few (dozen) deep breaths and adding a touch of honesty, I immediately moved into the sadness of not being able to be home that night with my family (the top of my what-matters-most list). I was sad and as soon as I realized it, the anger seemed to move away to make room for the sadness. It happens that way for me and I’ve seen it happen that way for others—hundreds of others who have taken the risk to look deeper into their emotions and through their anger.
I’m not saying to give up your vices—we all have them. Life is about balance though and vice—ing your way through life isn’t, in this man’s opinion, achieving that. Do yourself a favor and feel. Feel sad, feel angry, feel scared. The more you feel, the easier it will be and before you know it, your daily life will be full of little moments of emotion that allow you to not only stand, but live on top of that mountain with each and every step you take; and when you’re 70 you’ll look back and thank yourself for taking that long and beautiful road.