mindfully cheerful

I’m sitting in my little home office trying to work and negotiating a pretty big anger boiling inside me. I know that when it’s ‘inside’ like this that it’s not good for anyone; not good for everyone around me because I am like a walking time bomb…and certainly not good for me because of how the destructive force of this energy turns inward and can wreak havoc on my body. At the moment I am focused on the negative aspects of this inward turned energy and the chronic inflammation in my joints that I can no longer ignore. Feeling the depth of this inflammation in my joints, especially in my hips and knees, has been bringing me to tears. Hmmmm. And then smile. So many clear and obvious messages and yet at this moment sitting in my office I am blind and deaf to all of them. The figure of a man leaning out a window and yelling in anger to the world floats insistently into my vision and the word ‘network’ comes to me. Another smile. Yes, I am now remembering the scene from this epic movie….what is it that man is actually saying? who is he? So I ask Google about the movie ‘Network’ and there it is, right at the top of the list, the famous quote of the character Howard Beale as he shouts to the world, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!!”

The current dispute we are involved in on Ben’s behalf with our local school district concerning appropriate next steps is the reason on the surface of this anger. It is a big issue and it is consuming me. Sitting here in this moment I am feeling not just the frustration and fear that comes up around supporting Ben in our own little world here, but also the full depth of all the implications of why it is this way as related to our current socio-economic and political climate in this country at this time. In this moment, I finally make the connection between the inflammation I am feeling and the anger, and then between the anger and a culture that seemingly holds no value for Ben as a social being in the same way as the majority of persons in this country. No coincidence I suppose with this election coming up that the polarity is so glaring, so in my face, so personal. After years of not letting in and engaging with the ‘politics’ that surround me, I can no longer ignore how clearly and completely I have to now engage as an advocate for my son. I am clearly stuck now in the mental gymnastics of yadayadayada. Then the moment is shattered by the most amazingly loud screechy sound. It comes with a rhythm and a force that suggests something big and close. After a few minutes it is still going with great vigor and I finally get up to investigate. I finally can trace the sound to the tiny chipmunk sitting in a determined way right in the center of my porch, facing out and clearly, deliberately, saying something important, and it feels like Howard Beale to me, insistent and frustrated and mad….

The next day I am back in my office, still consumed and still searching for a way to shift my anger. I think to call a colleague in town who has been in the same position, someone I have always looked up to and respected for her unfailing diplomacy and leadership in town politics and committee work over the years. She offers the support I need and when I ask how she has dealt with her own anger over the years she shares with me two expressions that have become mantras for her….to be ‘mindfully cheerful’ and ‘infinitely stubborn’ in her manner of dealing with all conflict. I hang up the phone and feel the relief in this approach, know it is in me to adopt this way of relating to the world, know that I can now let go of this anger without expressing it in a destructive way. And in that moment I hear the loud screechy voice again. Amazing!! I look out the front door and sitting there, smack dab in the middle of the top step on my porch in exactly the same spot, is the chipmunk, facing out and making the same unbelievable noise. I watch for a few minutes, even open the door a little and this little creature is undaunted, just keeps on with whatever it is he/she is trying to communicate to the world beyond the front yard….

But now I have to wonder…is it really anger that this distinct voice is expressing? Or is it something else? Something cheerful perhaps. Something prophetic. Something necessary. Considering how this one single voice is going to make a difference by just being mindfully cheerful and infinitely stubborn in its delivery….

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