How much is a human life worth?

The first invites people to be curious and is laudable, one cannot learn unless one is asking questions. It is something that humans have a native inclination from the moment we are born, and…


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Using My Anger to Better Myself

I exercise because the voice in my head tells me I can’t.

Since the arrival of Covid-19, I’ve found myself inside a lot more. I’ve also found that being inside for long periods of time does not sit well with me. I have an overactive mind that loves to drive me crazy by picking me apart thought by worsening thought. As if it wasn’t enough to be mentally attacked, my body physically lets me know how much it hates sitting inside through the constant pain that it feels when I am inactive. Quarantine has been one long assault on my mind and body, and I’m coming to realize that I have some anger issues.

Sometimes my anger catches me off guard, but most of the time I try to stay aware of where my emotional levels are and how I’m feeling. Being bombarded by your anger out of the blue is not a pleasant feeling.

The other day I was coming out of the bathroom when my pants caught on the door latch and I was whipped into the wall. Next thing I know my fists were balled up and I almost punched through the door frame, an act that would’ve hurt me far more than the frame. This incident wasn’t the reason for my pent up anger, but it did shed light on how much anger I had brewing inside. If I hadn’t become aware of this anger in time to stop my actions, I may have ended up with a few broken fingers.

So, what am I to do now? Now that my anger is spinning out of control and my rage meter is getting dangerously full? I do the only thing I know how; I lash out. To do so, I must break free from the two things that are holding me back; my physical captivity, and my mental dungeon.

This is when I fill my CamelBak — holds up to 70 ounces of water — and suit up in the clothes I most want to punish. I stretch for a little bit to ease my aching joints and tightening neck, I either put on my running shoes or grab my bike, and I leave home with the intention of not returning until my shirt is soaked through, or I can no longer stand.

Initially, the pain in my body tries to tell me that I am not allowed to work out, that I shouldn’t be doing the things I’m trying to do — running and biking with my battered 35 year old body — but that only makes me want to push myself harder. You see, I do not do well with authority figures, especially ones in my head that try to tell me I can’t exercise. At this point, even if I did want to go sit back down on the couch, the non-conformist in me wouldn’t allow it. Each time I hear this voice try and tell me I can’t do something, the duration and distance of my workout increases by minutes and miles.

Yesterday I biked 17 miles, did an ab workout, and ran a little over 5 kilometers. I wish I could tell you that I did all of this in an effort to be as fit as I possibly can be, and while that may be the result of such active days, it is not the reason. I push myself to the limits because I’ve found it’s one of the best ways for me to reset my rage meter. Something about being outside and testing my body’s limits make me forget about the silly things I may have been stressing about previously.

Sometimes I just can’t get myself in a better mood, and while I know these types of days happen, it doesn’t mean I have to sit by and wait for them to alleviate themselves. Thus, you have the 17 mile bike ride, the ab workout, the 5k run, or the anything else that is going to mentally and physically challenge me to disperse the dark cloud that sometimes settles over my days.

With my bike at the ready, my running shoes laced, my CamelBak full, and my dark cloud looming overhead, I open my front door and begin to search for clearer skies. I don’t have the patience or the mental fortitude to wait for the weather to clear itself, so I have to take myself from these shadows and find the light on my own.

While I’m running or pedaling as hard as I can, I think of myself as a defiant toddler, and of my body as a strict parent trying to tell me what I shouldn’t be doing. I push back against the authoritative parent, and push my body to new limits. In the never-ending monologue that goes on in my head, I hear myself protesting defiantly.

After pushing myself as hard as I can for the first 30 minutes, I dial it back a bit and ease off of my defiance. This is when I begin attempting to shift my focus off of punishing my body, and into calming down. I turn the volume down in my headphones, I slow my pace, and I start to notice the smell of the air that I’m breathing in. I try to get myself to appreciate the pain I felt at the beginning of the workout, and how far I’ve come since then, not only in distance, but in mental states as well. Where I was once clenching my fists and staring at a door frame like it had just sucker-punched me, I am now taking in my surroundings and trying my best to appreciate the life around me.

By the time I make it up the steps and back into my house, my legs will be shaking, my shirt will be soaked through, my headphones will be in my pocket, and I’ll no longer harbor any ill will to the bathroom door latch that sought to throw my entire day off. After I guzzle some water and ingest as much healthy fats and proteins as I’ll allow myself, I hit the shower where I will finish my workout with a meditation. With the water washing my sweat away, I tell myself to accept things as they are, and attempt to change what I can.

I have anger issues, and I have recently become aware of them. Whenever something small doesn’t go my way, like opening a package, or trying to get a pillow into its pillowcase, I get the sudden urge to set the pillow on fire and rip the package in half, ultimately sending whatever lies inside flying across the room. Fortunately, exercising and meditating have lessened these urges by leaps and bounds.

I now make a conscious effort to monitor how I’m feeling and question why I might be feeling that way. My two biggest triggers are if I’m hungry, or if I’ve been watching the news. There are two simple answers to each one. If I’m hungry, I eat. And if I’ve been watching the news, I go for a run and pretend that each time my foot hits the ground, it is stepping on the faces of the congressmen whose only goal in government is to impede benefits to the people who need it most. God forbid giant companies have to start paying taxes in order to help the rest of the country…Great, time to put on my running shoes again.

Know your anger, you’re going to be living with it for as long as you’re living. It will come at times when you aren’t prepared for it, and the faster you can identify what’s going on, the faster you can remedy the situation. You will learn to unclench your fists and see reason through rationality — things aren’t going wrong just to spite you, sometimes shit just happens. And that’s OK.

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