Divine rage is fierce, disciplined, and visionary…– Valarie Kaur in See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto on Revolutionary Love
The aim of divine rage is not vengeance but to reorder the world.
This feels like a particularly scary time in history to be exploring rage. Here in the States, there have been two mass shootings in as many weeks… except that depends on how you define a “mass shooting.”
So while rage has been bubbling out in horrifying ways across this country (and yes, around the world), I find myself, after a pause and in conversations where a truly forthright answer to “How are you?” is appropriate, saying, “I’ve been exploring rage inside of myself a lot lately.”
In one such conversation over the weekend, I also tried to explain to a friend and fellow coach how physics and astronomy are integral to my experience of spirituality. As I thought about these two topics – rage and the spirituality of physics – I was reminded of the First Law of Thermodynamics which Albert Einstein described as: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change from one form to another.”
Physics tells us everything is energy. Everything. This isn’t a fanciful statement based on feelings but, rather, a foundational premise of the universe with evidence rooted in quantum physics.
(I really want to insert an “ergo” here. Oh, what the heck…)
Everything is energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. Ergo, rage is energy and that energy is going somewhere.
Our training and our comfort leads us to suppress such uncomfortable emotional experiences. We like to imagine that we can distract ourselves, convince ourselves, will-power ourselves into a more limited slate of more comfortable emotional experiences. Except, that energy is going to go somewhere…
…like into the makings of the experiences that evoked our own rage, ways that our sense of safety or personhood were violated.
… like into life-avoidant behaviors, the kinds of numbing that mute our joy as well as our rage.
… like the behaviors we most loathe in ourselves and fear in the world.
The alternative is scary, too, I won’t deny it. We can, though, accept Kaur’s invitation to join in conversation with rage, starting with our own:
Only when we give rage an external expression outside our bodies can we be in relationships with it. We can then ask: What information does my rage carry? What is it telling me? How do I want to harness this energy?
Consciously choosing where the energy of rage (or other strong emotions) goes, how it’s vented, when it’s utilized means that we can use it to, as Valarie Kaur wrote, reorder the world.
As with much of our most challenging and profound inner work, having someone on solid land holding onto the rope tied around our waist allows us to explore with more freedom, knowing that they can always haul us up and help us regroup. My coach is holding my rope; if you’re ready for someone to hold yours, I’ve got you.