Thursday, August 27, 2015

Talking strategy

Central Park. 4:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, August 27, 2015. A beautiful summer day yesterday in New York, with low (not no) humidity. It was almost cool when I went out onto my terrace early yesterday morning. The same coolness, maybe cooler returned by mid-evening. Beautiful. The weatherman says that half the country is going to get a lot more humidity next week. Lovely.

It’s hard to believe that eight months of the New Year have slipped by and we’re less than month from Autumn. The city right now, in my neck of the woods, seems almost deserted. And no doubt will continue to seem that way up through Labor Day when, no excuses, Summer’s over and it’s back to the grindstone.

Or whatever it is for you. The traffic yesterday, like most weekdays, is a miasma of human inclinations that are not harmonious to the soul or the drivers and their passengers.
Since my assault on this day two weeks ago while walking across Fifth Avenue from the Bulgari corner to the Tiffany corner in the middle of the afternoon, I’ve heard of a number of these incidents. A reader in Paris, for example, wrote to report that on the same week she’d been assaulted by a man with a knife when leaving a restaurant one evening over there. Then there was the story about the woman in the supermarket in Maine last week who was stabbed to death by a woman, a stranger, who “didn’t like” the way the victim had looked at her. Then there was yesterday in Virginia.

It’s all rage. Human rage. The whole world is rage. We all have it on one level or another. I do. I’m generally regarded as having a congenial personality, and I do. I like people, and I look at people to try to see who they are to themselves.

But I have my moments. Always when I’m alone, incidentally. I’ve had my moments in the presence of others, specifically  mates – wives and partners. I can remember a couple of times when I scared myself with it. I’m well aware of it because my father had it in spades. And he was violent, and out of control at times. Not lots of times but frequently enough to scare the bejesus out of me and my mother and my sisters full time.

Ironically he wasn’t physical with his rage with his children. He didn’t have to be. Picking up a chair and smashing it on the floor, or kicking through a panel on a door because my mother asked him about something he didn’t have the answer for. That was enough to keep us on alert. It usually had to do with money. A lot of the rage we witness and personally experience and also commit has to do with money in one way or another Not money per se, but the results from the lack of it and even sometimes with the surfeit of it.

I recognize my own rage sometimes daily when I read the Daily Mail Online and see stories of people hurting or killing their loved ones, or strangers, or their pets, or any animals. But especially the children and the animals. Rage toward innocence outrages me. I find myself reading about the horrors and fantasizing the horrific, savage punishments toward the abusers/murderers/monsters. That doesn’t surprise me, considering what my earliest experiences with adult anger were.

I hated it in my father. We were not close because of it. I didn’t want him to be close. I wished he’d take his rage and leave. He didn’t. Later, much later in my life, when I was an adult, a grownup, and after he’d died – at the age I am at now – I feel a closeness to him, partly because of that rage. Not because of the shared “rage” but because as a man, I naturally understand much of his dilemmas that brought it on. I’m grateful that I don’t face the world in the same way he did. He never learned he had a choice. Partly because there was no one for him to talk to and to talk to him. I find this is very common in us. But we all need it to get over the isolation that rage results in us.

My own rage is handled in a different way now, one I made up myself. This is directly related to a substantial enough exposure to psychotherapy of various practices. When I have an issue with someone, something that fuels a lot of anger in me, where I find myself talking to that individual (who is not present of course), I go into the bathroom and rant in front the mirror.

I’m laughing now when I think of those moments because they are funny. Watch yourself say all the horrible things you ever wanted to say to someone while looking in the mirror. See what you look like.  Include the voice and the snarls and wild  eyes and teeth bearing. Keep at it. Don’t stop. Do yourself a favor, however, and keep your hands to yourself and not on some object or nearby door. Just keep ranting. See what it’s like, how it feels, and how you feel when you’ve done enough of it.

I can do it for about fifty-sixty seconds. Although I’ve probably done more. I end up saying to the same mirror: “Well David you look like an asshole with all that language and epithets. I hope that makes you feel better, you moron.”  It’s a good idea because no matter your rage, you can’t change the people or matter you’re raging about. You can only change yourself. And that’s really hard but not impossible.

Inevitably it cracks me up. I go back to my desk or wherever I’m going, laughing at myself. Because it is funny. And so am I. For that moment after it’s all over. Our rage, all by ourselves, isolated and free to express (with your voice) needs to come out. Better to bring it out when you can also get the opportunity in the safety and isolation of your own bathroom mirror. It balances you and bears relief even if temporary.

What troubles me – because although I understand the motivation to rage – is that I don’t know how to help others rid themselves of it sensibly, safely and profitably. I say profitably because rage is always a losing proposition. Nothing good comes of it for YOU, let alone the the object of your anger. Even revenge is a hopeless gesture. And when committed on children or animals, it is poison, and poison is poisonous, even for you.

I don’t know what my father thought of his rage. (We called it a “temper” back in his day.) He may not have thought of it at all because when it passes, it can leave a gaping hole in yourself. He did not know how to be kind and good to himself. When I think of him now, I think of his nicer side. I'm sorry for him for all the damage he did to his self. All my friends loved him, thought he was the nicest, kindest father in the neighborhood. He was what they used to call a Street Angel and House Devil. And he was an “angel” to them. But, alas, not to himself. I regret that he missed out on that. If only he had the opportunity to learn what I did, it would have been a way better life for him and for all.
Meanwhile. Yesterday was National Dog Day. I got an email from a congressional campaign of a man named Brad Schneider who is running in Illinois. I get a lot of these, from both parties from all over. I don’t know how that happened because I’m not politically active in either party (although I was “brought up” in both).  But I didn’t even notice it was a political email because of the photo and the announcement that it was National Dog Day in America.

Mr. Schneider is sitting on a curbstone holding the leash of his dog who is lying in front of him looking up at him. The caption was: “Talking strategy with the Boss.”
I know that look of his dog. I have two who give me that look many times over the course of the day. As if they’re saying: “So wotta we gonna do  Dave? Walkies? Din-din? Treats? Huh?”  It’s a look of adoration. How do I know? Because I feel adoration. Toward them. They bring it out in me. It’s actually just about the greatest feeling you can have as a human being.

Nature provides its possibilities all over the place. And these dawgs, and these kitties, they’re born with it. It’s in the purr and the wag of the tail. It’s pure. It’s their gift to us.

I don’t know about Mr. Schneider’s politics but I do know his dog is For Him – and doesn’t care his politics either. So here’s to National Dog Day.

If you want to yell at somebody and read them the riot act, go look in the bathroom mirror and let ‘em have until you’ve exhausted yourself. Then go back and  find your dawg or your cat or both, and just talk to them and tell them what beauties they are. You’ll not only feel better, you’ll feel like a new man. Or a new woman. And you’ll be glad for all of it.
Meanwhile, just so we don't forget: our friend Francine LeFrak, an enterprising and practical philanthropic entrepreneur is having a Sale of Same Sky jewelry ("Jewelry with a purpose") this afternoon (Thursday, August 27) at the Topping Rose House, 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton, co hosted by Michelle Brown, Denise LeFrak, Margo Nederlander, Lauren Day Roberts, Claudia Walters.

Same Sky is a fair trade initiative that provides employment opportunities to HIV+ women in Rwanda. It operates under the philosophy that the best philanthropy is a good job. It provides women with the tools to lift themselves out of extreme poverty to lead self-sustaining lives. They not only implement artisan training, but also access to a viable platform for the sale and distribution of their products.
Same Sky women have been trained to crochet exquisite glass beaded jewelry which in turn earns them a sustainable income — one that is 15 to 20 times the average Sub-Saharan wage. 100% of the net proceeds are re-invested to employ and train more women. 

Here are a few important examples that demonstrate the impact of their work on the artisans' lives: The purchase of one glass bead bracelet buys and HIV+ artisan healthcare for an entire year. The purchase of a sky glass bead necklace provides and artisan's child with an education for an entire year.

Inspired by their success in Rwanda, Same Sky has expanded into America to help combat poverty! Same Sky America employs ex-offenders in Jersey City, and helps them build bright and sustainable futures for themselves and their families. Same Sky America has a 100% non-recidivism rate, compared to our countries 75% recidivism rate! Everyone wins. No room for rage here.

Contact DPC here.