Hello, my name is Jamie and I’m a living, breathing sensitive (and sometimes insensitive) human being. It’s taken me awhile to make that admission out loud, but it’s true. You’re probably wondering why I bring this up, however, if you watch the news and experience the world we live in, it won’t take you long to figure out why.
Like a lot of people out there, I find myself being pretty angry a lot lately. Why? Because life seems like a constant barrage of bullshit. People talk too much about things they don’t know, opinions become formed without full knowledge, and ridiculous acts of senseless violence ensue far too often. It’s enough to make us all want to crawl in a hole and wait for the apocalypse. But even on a smaller scale, I find myself being angry about ridiculous every day things that shouldn’t bother me nearly as much as they do. There’s things like the laundry piling up when I just did it two days ago, the dinner plates stacking up in the kitchen that no one seems to notice but me, or the gob of fucking toothpaste my daughter constantly leaves in the sink. Plus, there’s the usual stress of work, parenting, and paying bills. Not to mention keeping the dog fed, the cats’ litter box clean, stupid allergies that my me feel like garbage when the weather is perfect, plus the pressure of trying to be as cool everyone else seems on Facebook or Instagram, all while grasping on to hopes and dreams that seem to slip farther out of reach with every year that passes by. Now add in the fact that my hair is turning gray way faster than I want to admit, and wrinkles are appearing in places that make me say “WTF?” when I look in the mirror. After all of that, what do I have left at the end of the day? You guessed it—anger. A whole bunch of it.
Now it seems like I might be complaining a lot here, but stick with me, I’m about to bring this boatload of self-pity back into the harbor and shovel the shit back on shore, but not without first explaining the catalyst behind this rant …
The other night I was sitting at a stoplight when my phone lit up. Oblivious to the world around me, I read the message and as the light turned green I put my phone back down and continued on my way. That’s when I noticed the car next to me (being as I was on a four-lane highway) speed up, and the individual in the car had her hand out the window flipping me off with much fervor and enthusiasm (yes, I know that’s redundant, but that’s how serious she was). Clearly something I had done pissed her off. Instead of being the rational person I like to believe I am, the anger I’d been feeling about everything else in the world stepped in to the driver’s seat—literally. Without making this story longer than it needs to be (mainly because I’m not proud of it), what happened next was a senseless confrontation with the female driver of the other car. Lots of words were said by both of us, many beginning with F and B. The woman was infuriated that I was on my cell phone while in my car and even went so far as to call the police. Enraged I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why my very common act while completely stopped at a stoplight, upset her.
The incident ended without much more than a she-said, she-said story from both parties and a very nice police officer reminding me not to engage with people who seem out of control. Very solid advice. Still, I just couldn’t rationalize the whole ordeal inside my head, and I had questions. What caused this woman to be so angry about a complete stranger looking at her phone while stopped at a red light? Would it have mattered if she had known that I was coming home late and the message I was reading was from my 10-year-old daughter who can’t sleep until I get home? Did she have children of her own? Was one of her children harmed by someone being careless while behind the wheel of a car? I wanted to believe this woman had a reason for making the shitty day of an average stressed-out mom even shittier than it had already been.
The next morning as I was stomping around my house gathering the usual piles of laundry, resenting the dishes in the sink, and brushing away what seemed like ten layers of dust off the piano (all with the situation from the night before still very much on my mind), I knocked over a painting my daughter had made last spring. The painting, shown above, has been sitting on our piano for months. I see it every day, usually while spinning around like a tornado in my shit storm of anger, yet that morning it felt like I was seeing it for the first time. As I picked it up and put it back in its place, its simple message suddenly became ridiculously clear. If I wanted to be in a better place, especially inside my own head, I had to make the world a better place—somehow.
What does that mean? Fuck if I know. But here’s what I do know … There comes a time during this crazy human experience when we really need to let go of the bullshit and stop allowing our happiness to be interrupted. If you can’t keep up, don’t pretend like you can. Admit when you’re too tired. Say no. Cry if you have to, and by all means, give yourself that much needed break that will save you from the brink of insanity. Leave the dishes in the sink and the laundry piles for later. Play a board game with your kid. Take the dog for a walk. If someone hurts your feelings, find a respectful way to let them know, but don’t burn bridges. Smile more and laugh harder. Call your grandma or grandpa (if you have one). Talk less. Listen more. Don’t throw stones that might ricochet, and try not to pee into the wind … I could go on and on here, but I think you get my point. Change only happens when you find a way to make it happen, and if you want a better world for yourself—make one. It really is that simple.
And, to the woman in the car whose name and background I don’t know and probably never will, I’m sorry if I offended you with my words and actions. I’m guessing we were both angry about many of the same things, and you taught me an important lesson about why I need to be a better human. I’m grateful for that, truly. However, I will still check my text messages from my daughter (and probably other people) while at a complete stop at a red light, and for that, I’m not in the least bit sorry.
As always, thank you for reading.