At lunch with a friend today she told me about a relationship in her life that is not working out. She was contemplating the ways in which to end it. I found myself hearing the internal sounds of Paul Simon’s old ’50 Ways to Leave your Lover’. Our conversation eventually led us to ask: Which is more painful at the end of a relationship – when you leave it feeling sad, or when you leave it feeling angry?
Anger can be a great motivator. It can force us to action. It can incite change when change is necessary. Anger can jump start our lives after a stall. It has certainly been there for me when I needed it. But, I have also seen how people can get strung-out on anger. Holding on, afraid they will crumble without it. Anger can be insidious and cancerous in the way it spreads and rots a person soul. One thing I know, without a doubt, is that I can not afford that trip.
There are some major life decisions I have made by measuring the potential of pain. Given distinct choices that each guarantee some sort of hurt, which pain can I tolerate? And which direction will allow me to, eventually, put the pain away? Today, this was my friend’s dilemma.
We talked about sadness. About how it aches so deeply and how it can make you lose your breath. About how it paws at your heart in unexpected moments. And how sometimes you become so numb to it that the tears flow without warning. But in the end, there is a sweet beauty to sadness. A truth it reveals that hides inside anger. And, we agreed, it is this truth that eventually tears holes in the fabric of sadness; so light can begin to trickle in.
So, in the end, I have to say that if given the choice between anger and sadness, I choose sadness. And I am grateful for those moments I am given the choice.
(fantastic little drum solo at the end)