It was a cloudy, brisk winter day in the Appalachian mountains. My coffee was hot and I was ready to make progress on an article I was writing. After just a few minutes, my attention was suddenly drawn to a soft knock. I attempted to ignore it, but the sound roused my curiosity. It was recurring about every 10 seconds. I tiptoed as I investigated around the house. Eventually, through the living room window, I spotted him. A beautiful red bird was perched in a tree a few feet away and he was charging the living room window repeatedly; feet first, wings outstretched.
My stomach dropped as I was reminded of the yellow finch whose little body showed up on my porch mysteriously a couple years ago. At the time, after burying the little guy, I did some research and learned that certain territorial birds become obsessed with windows; attacking their own reflection as if it were an intruder. I intended to write about it at the time, but didn’t. So here is another beautiful bird, knocking once again.
I tried my best to scare him away by yelling, clapping, moving the curtains, even taping a picture of the Donald in the spot he was aiming at. I tried to send him telepathic images–as I was taught in a basic animal communication class some years ago. I even resorted to trying an emotional release method; playing soothing music at the site of the glassy battlefield. Nothing was working so I decided to let go for the moment and look for the symbolism behind what was happening.
Now, some may scoff at this, but I have plenty of evidence that nature is available to teach me when I’m paying attention. Nature models harmony and unfoldment, cycles and seasons and this time the lesson came in the form of a metaphor for anger. Here are a few observations, as well as some thoughts from visionaries who had a lot of experience with the subject.
Reflections on anger
*It is a convincing illusion that anger will affect anyone more than the person who is angry. This illusion is rooted in the belief that we are separate and the denial of the idea that we are all in an interconnected web of energy and relationships.
“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…This is the inter-related structure of reality.” MLK Jr.
*There is a time to accept limitation. Instead of angrily slamming into the walls in front of us, we can learn to investigate and understand them. The Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, MLK Jr. and Nelson Mandela took their righteous anger and transmuted it. They found peace despite unbearable unfairness and charted poetic, productive courses; energized by injustices that could have easily eaten away at them. Peaceful persistence rather than angry reactivity will always prevail.
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. Nelson Mandela
*Determination driven by an egoic desire or reaction (i.e. needing to prove something or diminish someone else in order to achieve it) isn’t likely to provide fulfillment.
Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up. Mahatma Gandhi
*We can become enflamed until death. Anger causes Inflammatory biological responses in the body. Think, ‘heated battle’. While inflammation is helpful to fight infection, most of the inflammation we experience is induced by our emotions. When chronic, it can be damaging to our tissues. Some ways your body may be trying to communicate with you about unresolved anger issues: heart and liver issues. Anger hides out and imbalances the energies there. A tendency toward alcoholism, poor diet and road rage are also clues.
‘You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger’ Unknown
*Sometimes you won’t be able to help another break through an anger trance. I tried to startle the bird away, communicate w him and use compassion. Nothing seemed to work. He was determined. It is painful to watch someone we love be consumed by anger. It’s hard to observe loved ones hitting the wall or going back for another round of a painful lesson. After all, the outcome is predictable. It’s sad to see talent and beauty be wasted. Being a loving observer is difficult and it’s ok to have boundaries, step away and take a break when you need to. We must
remember, it is their lesson to learn, and our attachment to the timing of their learning often just adds to their resistance and becomes a distraction.
The true hero is one who conquers his own anger and hatred.” HH Dalai Lama
I’m sure there are more interpretations of this metaphor. I’d love to hear yours in the comment section below.