Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crucible


You are pleased, often to the point of amused smugness with yourself, when discussions you lead in classroom or seminar situations move into areas at some remove from your personal opinions and tastes without drawing the emotional you from his nap and into the fray.

You are even able to apply the brakes to the potential for smugness, which is, after all, no part of the discussion but rather a metric of your anger management (which did not always manage well at all).

You were thinking earlier this evening as a discussion from one of your favorite students provided some negative reflections on an author whose work gives you uniform responses of satisfaction that a profile of anger tolerance is a useful thing to have on a character.  Even as you steered the conversation and its adjuncts from other students toward the goal you’d intended, you were in a real sense managing anger by imagining how easy it would be to become progressively less laid back, more in the moment of the argument, and finally over the top of real argument and into the terrain of bombast, defensiveness, and attitude.

Thanks to the ubiquity of You Tube, you are able to consult a broad spectrum of politicians and clerics, your two least favorite archetypes, as they send cool reason off packing and settle into full-throttle rant and venom.

Of course it does not suffice for you to say you are better by about five or six notches at anger management than you once were, even though that estimate is in the realm of accuracy, your last blow-ups, real rising of the choler, were with clients, both of whom you fired.  You are pleased to say your last blow-up with a student came when you were at USC, the event coming in 05, and resolved shortly after to the student’s actual profit in terms of tangible things learned and demonstrated.

Anger is still your elephant, moseying about sometimes in the guise of impatience.  The benefits of recognizing this whenever impatience begins shuffling its feet on the floor id, you believe, a direct connection to the physics of motivation.

Characters have done something in the past, exploded with unpleasant consequences, with words said, actions committed, plans altered, all of these passionately believed at the time of the explosion, most of them long since regretted.

Compare your past blow-ups with an event of about a week ago, where, as the result of a review of a book you wrote, you are no longer a participant in a situation in which, since 1980, you’d been a participant.  This was not by any account a blow on your part; you needed no Vesuvius-like lava shower to justify your sense that a boundary had been trespassed.

Thus you have some actions motivated by crucibles overflowing because of too much heat applied, and other actions motivated by an almost peaceful sense of the inevitable, two platters from which you may help yourself whereas before, you were more or less limited.

You can and have at occasion burned your tongue when serving from the overflowing crucible.  Consequences from the cold cut platter go down with much greater comfort.


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