This is going to sound gross--you’ve been warned--but today I nearly left a piece of myself behind: a broken toenail. I have this bad pinky toe, and it’s always been painful to consider removing, but today it decided to remove itself painlessly on the edge of a soft couch. I was grateful it didn’t hurt and took the ugly away!
So of course I got to thinking about needless worry, about pain taken away, about the things we leave behind, the bits and pieces of ourselves. I marvel to think about the sheer amount of pieces--the bits I didn’t like, and some grudgingly taken away. I’ve left pieces with friends who needed consoling, bits throughout my graduate career at various classes and in various administrative offices, crumbs after capstone moments like graduations and weddings and baptisms, chunks after disagreements and gatherings. Giving myself to life, if I am really giving myself to it, involves necessarily leaving myself behind, both going into and out of the situation at hand.
Lately I’ve been thinking about anger--or any volatile emotion, the kind that keeps me from leaving good pieces, from giving of myself. I just read some about the Desert Fathers regarding acknowledging anger. Not ignoring or hiding it out of embarrassment, not pushing it aside, thinking it just something wrong with our wiring, but actually taking it up, looking at it, and realizing that it’s telling us something, this anger, this emotion. I tend to see anger as something wrong with me, or with whomever is angry at me (justly or not), but this writer encouraged the idea of conscientiousness regarding anger. The emotion shows us what we’re missing, or doing right or wrong, and if we’d just consider the emotion and then act on it with compassion, we wouldn’t ignore something so central to human existence: an acknowledgement of self. Sometimes anger is necessary, for instance, to bring our attention to something we need to change or make better or rethink. The key comes in how we act on our emotion--taking it as an odd gift, and making use of it to bring about a good. Writers and artists do this when they create out of random inspiration, daily looking for the beauty in even the ugly.
I want to create out of some of my twisted messes, and see the world anew, in this way, and leave the better pieces behind for beauty’s sake.