Thomas Merton Meets the Rage Machine


I went to work, expecting a fine day. And then the rage happened. Slowly, the steam was building up. I wanted to grab peoples’ heads and clop them together like empty coconut halves. I snapped at a co-worker. I still feel bad about that.

Where did all this turmoil come from? I feel like a hypocrite, having talked recently about not wanting other people to rage in my store. But damned if I didn’t want it!  Fueling the rage machine is all I desired. It would feel  good to holler at somebody who, when I say “Decaf soy latte,” asks me if it’s a decaf.

Why am I like this? Why am I of the opinion that people-who-don’t-stop-talking-on-their-phone-long-enough-to-order need a swift high stick to the crotch? Why do I feel entitled to be the deliverer of crotch hockey mayhem?

Maybe someday I’ll grow up.

I went to work around 1PM. It was around 4PM before I finally trusted myself enough to lighten up, and be friendly around everyone. The power of friendliness, and a returned smile, is so much more lasting than a sharp word and a snarl.

I made it through the day. I smiled most of the time. If I hurt anyone, sorry. I tried really hard to keep my mood level. Sometimes it’s hard to dial down the machine.

Sometimes I think of Thomas Merton, who sat in his cell writing all day, never speaking a word, and lamenting his horrible litany of sinful, sinny sins. I often wondered “How can a silent monk who writes all day have enough sin to fill even a thimble?” I think I get it, although I don’t know if I’d call the struggle to be kind every day a sin. It’s just Life. If I want to be a good guy–and I do want to be one–it’s a constant battle of putting others’ concerns before my own. It’s a struggle to not refuel the machine, not to grasp hold of that grim feeling of power that comes when I verbally stab a person. It’s about trying like hell to stamp out my own pride, so others can be honored by me. It’s not easy. I fight every step of the way. but I’m beginning to understand. Damn you Merton! I hate when you’re right! I just try to calm myself, and start over. Remember to smile when the judges are watching, like my choir director taught me, and practice smiling even when they aren’t. It works. It’s almost inhumane in its difficulty, but I managed yet another day of not blowing my stack.
There’s no ultimate end result of this path. I just have to keep shutting down the machine; keep tamping back the rage. It’s all I can do. It’s my goal. Also I’d like to lose a hundred pounds and still keep eating cartons of Chips Ahoy cookies.
One thing at a time, ol’ Boy. One thing at a time. Grin.
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One thought on “Thomas Merton Meets the Rage Machine”

  1. It is funny how sometimes people take great offense from offhanded remarks I make, trying to be silly. But if they could hear the vitriol and hatred of my internal dialogue, they would have me arrested. I sometimes scare myself that way.

    Like

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