Friday, January 05, 2007

Do not loose your temper, except intentionally.
-Dwight Eisenhower

Humans are a species of tool makers and tool users. This sets us apart from most other species. Of course, many other primates and even a few remarkable aviary specimens are capable of making and using tools, but we are the ultimate; the sublime toolmakers. We are capable of engineering and building tools the size of large molecules through sky scrapers and huge aircraft and space vehicles.

We make and use tools. That is us.

I am missing a tool. I don't know where it is. I don't know what it looks like. I don't know how to acquire or build a new one. What I DO know is that I miss it and I need it.

This is not a tangible tool, although its product is presented as tangible action. It is anger; or more appropriately the ability to understand, utilize and relate to other people who are trying to grapple with their own uneasy feelings generated by this emotion.

Anger is difficult for me to understand. I empathize with those who are having a difficult time with this emotion, but I cannot truly relate. All I can do is hug them if they need it, speak reassuring words and say “I understand”. I feel so impotent in this respect.

Coming to grips with the fact that I cannot help everyone was a harsh realization. A good realization. I CANNOT help everyone and that is OK. I will help those I can. That has been fairly settled in my mind.

But, what of that group of people in the joined area defined by those asking for help and myself wanting to give it? There is a third area: My ability to give it. If I knew someone who needed $100 and I wanted to give it to them, but didn't have it to give, it is a simple matter of reality. I don't have it; I can't give it.

Someone asks me for understanding and clarity on the subject of their anger. I want so badly to give them what I have, but I have almost no understanding. My tool is gone; missing; hiding; thrown away. I can barely prove to myself that this tool is gone, or ever existed in the first place. How do I prove it to the person asking for help?

Do I need to? Becoming caught in the complex maze of self-justification is a never ending, reiterative, infinitely recursive process. I want those asking for my help, implicitly or explicitly to understand that I have no tool. It is gone; moved without a forwarding address. I want to tell those that I can empathize but not completely understand.

I can hold the, I can comfort them, I can tell them it will be 'ok'. It is difficult for me to verbalize. I feel a special closeness with certain friends. I pray they understand.