Monday, May 28, 2007

Anger Management

I am not prone to anger, but when I do get angry, it tends to be an “outburst” – and even then it is usually low-key. I get it over it very quickly, and then I go on my merry way. Well, a few days ago I found myself in a situation where a very clever essay by Jamie Buckingham, “Things That Go Squish In the Night,” immediately came to mind. This piece is in his book The Last Word, a collection of columns he wrote for a newspaper and other publications.

He relates an incident where he shut off a valve that drained water from his heating system so he could divert it to a spigot and wash the car earlier in the day. Evening has come, it is getting late. He has told his daughter to hurry up and take her shower and has gone to bed. Just as he is falling asleep, he hears a sound and realizes he has failed to reopen the valve. Now water is now flooding the back yard instead of draining into the pond. It is pitch dark outside, he grabs his flashlight, sloshes through the water to the well house, shuts off the water, and then heads off through the backyard to the cement-lined hole where the diverter valve is located. He sticks his hand down there and touches something slimy, which he can’t see in the dark. He leaps up, forgetting that he is kneeling under a barbed wire fence.

“The result was disastrous. When I became a Christian, I lost most of my old vocabulary. This robs me of the necessary safety valve to handle such emergencies. So, instead of cursing, I threw my flashlight, which landed in the pond, leaving me in total darkness. Ripping myself away from the barbed wire, I staggered backwards away from the fence. I stepped in doggie-do. Hopping around in the tall grass, I ran a thorny briar between my big toe and the toe right next door... That which I lost I suddenly found–and a torrent of expletives issued forth...”

Jamie Buckingham is now late, having died in 1992, so I guess we will have to wait until eternity to enjoy any more of his witty writing. At any rate, what happened to me wasn’t quite as dramatic, but the effect was much the same.

Earlier in the spring, R fixed up a half whiskey barrel planter for me at the side of the porch so I could plant a clematis and have it climb the trellis on the porch. The local greenhouse where I would have found a clematis shut down, and not being able to find one at Wally World, I planted pansies, violas, and johnny jump-ups around the rim and left a spot for the clematis, should one turn up. The flowers survived the hard freeze we had in April and were thriving and just beautiful.

Two weeks ago, I found a beautiful burgundy passionflower fine at a street fair and planted that in the spot where the clematis would have gone. And I was happy. I have never been very successful at growing flowers.

Then a few days ago, I returned from aerobics and started up the back steps, and glanced down to look at my beautiful pansies and saw that they were no longer beautiful. Some “thing” had gotten in the barrel and tore it up. All the plants on one side had been pulled up, and the plants on the other had been covered in dirt.

I was enraged. To echo Buckingham, “that which I lost I suddenly found.” We too are out in the country so nobody was around to hear me, except R. Fortuntely, what ever got in their simply uprooted the plants and did not destroyed them, so I quickly replanted them all, uncovered the ones that were covered up, and gave them a good watering. And they seem to have bounced back.

Buckingham closes his essay with the thought “...God is more interested in what we become along the way than whether we arrive. I am not sure what I became. But one thing is certain, I have not yet arrived.”

Me either.

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