Diary entry for second week of June 2014

I’ve been slacking off on my objective for daily posts.   I have not run out of ideas.  Instead, I have been distracted for various reasons.

I abandoned one post that I started earlier this week.   It started as a simple response to a motivational piece about constructively using anger to address life’s disappointment.   If something does not work out they way you like, then get angry.   This was a constructive motivation that assumed this anger would be purely internal.   The assertion was that you can control anger by turning it on an off, and focusing it on just that one topic: the disappointment you want addressed.     Work it out internally and you’ll be motivated to do better next time.

I objected to the use of the word anger in this sense.   I would have preferred to call it a conversation and I made the analogy of people discussing a work of art.   My analogy was to equate disappointment to a finished work of art that can be talked about.    I liked that analogy no only because it more closely resemble a controlled discussion, but the object that represents the disappointment is a finished work of art.   It’s done.   Certainly one option is to just leave it behind.  I also think the definition works in reverse: art is disappointment.

I wanted to argue that invoking the word anger risks releasing a very primitive instinct that we really don’t have much control over.   Anger works deeper in the more primitive parts of the brain and involves hormones.   Once released, anger pervades the entire body, affects all thoughts, and it lingers for as long as it likes.   I don’t see much in the way of control when anger is released.

In any case, that was going to be my post and it was getting a good size but then something happened.   I got angry.   This was on Monday.   Here it is Thursday and I’m still trying to recover from that anger.   The reason for the anger was silly.

Briefly, I got angry after getting suckered into a long term service contract by a door to door salesperson who initially claimed a discount because his crew was in the neighborhood.   To be clear, I was sold on the contract, I thought it was a reasonable service and reasonable deal.

What made me angry was later when I reviewed the encounter and realized that the initial discussion implied this was a cheap one-visit deal.   My initial yes was to that perceived deal.   Eventually, I called to cancel before the crew locked me in with the first service.    I was angry.   The deal occurred on Monday, I canceled on Tuesday.  Here it is Thursday. I’m still worked up so that I have trouble concentrating on anything.  The anger should have subsided.  The problem was fully resolved on Tuesday.  I didn’t really need the service and it is now history.   But the energy of the anger lingers.

I guess I could explain it by being angry with myself for not reacting sooner to push back during the encounter so that we could come to a more mutually respectful contract.   But, this would be pure rationalization.   The easier explanation is that the anger has got loose and I have yet to get it back into its cage.   My body is still in an angry state.

In terms of the motivation scenario, I think this is analogous.   The cancellation was done very friendly and cheerfully despite their counter offers.   There is no external signs of anger.   I suppose someone may notice I’m not myself, but I serious doubt they would suspect I am angry.

For that motivation scenario, I say by all means face down the disappointment and do something about it.   But I also say, don’t even imagine it as anger.    Anger is one of those primitive emotions.   Well, at least speaking for myself, I’m not very good at focusing it to just one topic or restraining it to a short period of time.  I’m clearly still worked up.

I can tell I’m uneasy but right this moment I would not call it anger at all.   I’m just very uncomfortable.   It is nearly 80 degrees in the house and I’m wearing a winter sweater.   I’m wearing it for the additional weight.  It is a comforter.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, there have been a number of distractions.   One of those is a course I’m taking online.   The course is part of a series of one-month courses.  This first course is very simple.  I could just ignore it, but I keep thinking I should spend some more time exploring the new software they got me to install.    In hindsight it is a complete waste of time, but it is what it is.

The other is time spent on the piano on some new simple pieces that are challenging to me.  Because of my being so worked up, I’m only able to sit through a single pass through a piece and then I have to get up and pace the room a bit before either trying again or going to the other piece.    I was annoyed that I couldn’t stay dedicated to playing.   I repeated this over and over again over the week.   But then I began to realize this might actually be smarter than doing repetitions.   I can hear the difference even if I can’t explain it, the piece is more like music than an exercise.   The physical motion of settling into the seat, playing and then immediately stand and walk away when done is setting up a different mindset while playing.

Maybe the playing sounds better because I’m so worked up over being angry.   That would be bad.   I don’t want to get angry just to be able to play piano.


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