Q. What’s happening now?
Q. Of what?
A. Of character.
Q. What brought this transformation about?
Q. Of what?
A. Of behavior.
Q. How had you been behaving?
A. Recently, somewhat. In the past, a great deal.
Q. But you are no longer angry?
A. Not at the moment, no. Far from it, in fact. But that’s not the point.
Q. What’s the point?
A. That my anger naturally caused people to distance themselves from me.
Q. And now they are no longer distant?
A. The people whom I got mad at two days ago are no longer distant. There have been apologies, forgiveness, and healing. As for those whom I got mad at in the past, they remain distant.
Q. How long do you think they will remain distant?
A. I don’t know. Perhaps forever.
Q. Why would that be?
A. Because people are not comfortable with anger. Or, because they’re offended by it. One way or the other, they either feel they can’t deal with it, or they believe they shouldn’t have to.
Q. Are you comfortable with anger?
A. Listen man — I lived on the streets for years. We all got mad at each other, back and forth, day by day, almost as a routine. We all screamed and yelled and cussed. We got used to it. We couldn’t get away from each other anyway — not even if we tried. Somebody can scream and yell and cuss at me all they want. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable nor does it offend me. If anything, it’s refreshing.
A. Yes. It makes me realize I’m not the only one. In fact, it even awakens my compassion. I feel for the person who’s getting mad, because I know what it feels like.
Q. How does it feel?
A. It feels lousy. You feel guilty. You feel like you might be hurting somebody. And you feel like you’re losing control. But you see, on the streets, it became par for the course. Half the time, we didn’t feel anything at all.
Q. What about off the streets?
A. There’s a lot less to be angry about. That is, in my own world. Plenty to be angry about in the world on the whole, especially as pertains to my own country. But my life is a breeze compared to what it once was. So of course I don’t get as angry as I used to.
Q. Are you saying that your temper was a product of the streets?
A. No – and I didn’t mean to imply that. I was angry before I landed on the streets. People didn’t know it. In fact, they often characterized me as “serene.” But I was not inwardly tranquil. I had inner anger that I’d learned through various means — medication being a factor — to manage. But the streets brought my anger to the surface. The streets gave me an outlet for my anger. They exacerbated it. They magnified it. They illuminated it — and I was angry for a long time even after I got indoors.
Q. What were you angry at?
A. Injustice and inequity. But even that is not the point. It’s more like — who I was angry at.
Q. Who were you angry at?
A. All these people who distanced themselves from me. Especially if they distanced themselves to the point of total disappearance. Those who dropped out of my life without notifying me. We wouldn’t have been able to do that on the streets. So, people who lived indoors were exercising a luxury we street people did not have.
A. Did this make you jealous?
Q. Not so much jealous. I was jealous of them because they lived indoors and I did not. But I was not jealous of their ability to remove me from their lives. I was only angered by that.
A. Why anger?
Q. Because I didn’t think it was right. The right thing would have been to inform me. To let me know that they were done with me.
A. But is it ever right to be done with somebody?
A. Not in my book. But that’s a pretty strange book — and I could elaborate. God’s Book is the Book in question.
Q. Is God ever done with anybody?
A. That, sir, is the Question of the Ages.
The Questioner is silent.
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2 thoughts on “Tuesday Tuneup 89”
That’s so interesting that mention that about anger being on the streets. I used to work in a neighbourhood with a lot of homeless people, and I did a fair bit of outreach to see my clients, and I definitely noticed that kind of anger. It was a bit startling at first, but then it just became part of the background.
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The streets, along with the overall conditions of homelessness, have a way of angering people who have to deal with those conditions over a protracted period of time. And yes, it does become “par for the course” — or an accepted part of the landscape — after a while.