The Defiance of Being Angry

That’s one angry sky

Let me start by saying it is always an act of defiance to fly through O’Hare. Be it weather, a 45 minute layover in which you have to transport yourself and 8 bags five miles to your next gate, or an Urban Tea with an entire menu of coffee items that at 6am somehow runs out of coffee (WTF?!?). I always fly away quite happy to see that airport (not Chicago itself, love Chicago) behind me.

Apropos of this description, I left Chicago one early morning this week, sans coffee, through the above storm.

You can imagine my trepidation while on the runway. “Yep, that looks angry”, I thought, followed by “Bring on the bourbon!” (Unfortunately, they also don’t give out Jack Daniels at 6am — DAMNIT!!) The ascent was as bad as it looked. Armrest gripping, fervent praying, trying not to pee myself bad. But all of a sudden, I felt the sun on my face through the window. I cracked open one timid eye and there was this…

Needless to say, I said a different prayer and started some pranayama breathing so I wouldn’t vomit my chai tea (NOT the same as coffee, btw). The instantaneous joy I felt in that moment of peace after falling (literally) and shaking (me and the plane) was overwhelming. Acting like we just smoothly sailed through that cacophony, our overly perky flight attendant deftly started the beverage service. I even got a cookie! And up in the clouds in this moment of bliss, I had an epiphany.

Anger is temporary; but joy and gratitude are the default.

See, I’ve been angry this week. Why? Dunno. Probably some roil of emotions about my husband’s impending five week absence, my growing love/hate relationship with a town that desperately needs a wine bar, and my complicated feelings on the violence taking place in a city I love. Okay, so I know why I’m angry. The “dunno” refers to my inability to figure out why I’m angry instead of any other emotion that makes far more sense — worry, fear, sadness, loneliness, drunk (and yes, that is an emotion…don’t judge).

My defiance this week is therefore the right to be pissed as my chosen expression of whatever you call that emotional ball of fun I just laid on you.

My youth minister once told me that “God’s a nudger.” My gentle reminder from the sky suggests he’s right. That early morning flight reminded me that there are periods of anger in life but right on the other side lies peace. Weathering the anger without losing one’s shit (pee doesn’t count) belies not only character but fortitude. Can you own periods of fear and acknowledge with gratitude the relief that follows? Can you take a breath in the brief respite between waves to regain your strength for the next bout with the devil? Can you try again tomorrow when you failed today?

My heart city has experienced the anger this week. They have been jolted, fractured, and enraged. I do not pretend to believe that peace is imminent on that horizon. But, as in my own situation, I am positive that anger is temporary. I am positive that the Queen City I know defaults to a space of camaraderie and peace. I’m not a pilot, so I don’t know how to get there, but I am confident the One flying that plane does.

Anger is an inevitable necessity at times, particularly when there’s no way to go up but through. The best prayer I know for the anger is the mantra I spasmodically repeat every time I fly. It’s minimalistic, but I think it’s appropriate…for both myself and my city.

“Please help me to get there safely, Father, with as little turbulence as divinely possible.”

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