You Have My Permission To Be Angry

I think about anger a lot, but I wouldn’t say I’m an angry person.

Grouchy? Cantankerous? Easily irritated? All yeses. Just like everyone else, I get angry at weird things for no reason. Just like everyone else, I usually keep a lid on it.

I used to work at a garage that refilled propane tanks. It was important to open up the bleeder valve before you refilled the tank or else explosions might happen. Most of us have our bleeder valves on lock.

I left practicing yoga because of all that “breath through the energy” bullshit. Most of the time it was advice given to me by someone who wasn’t old enough to know anger.

I’ve had strangers scream in my face because I made them angry. One of them suggested I join up with ICE. It was a weird evening.

I posted on Instagram about anger. Some people “liked” it, which I don’t understand. Here is the NYT story that I clipped the quote from. 

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Currently: everyone is angry; no one is allowed to be angry. I came across this quote in the paper this weekend, about Cranston's role in the Broadway reprisal of Network. Never seen Network? It was one of those films that were a bit ahead of its time. Sorkin-style, from the 70s, right as television was getting into it's prime and starting to take hold of the public discourse and imagination. It's that "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" movie. Anger is a hard thing to figure and manage today. We're all made to feel *shame* about our anger. We're told to "chill out" and just "let it go." If we're angry enough we might find ourselves on a list or towards the top of someone's surveillance. We feel frustrated about something that feels unjust or illogical and we just want to vent about it. We're at our most honest when we're venting. The filters fall away and what we're actually feeling spills out all over the damn place. Commonly, venting is served up with solutions that get us to shut up. Since no one knows how to deal with a venting person, we just want them to stop. If it isn't something that we can also get angry about then that person MUST be in the wrong. If someone is venting around me or at me, then that person MUST be attacking ME – and the defenses go right up. Since we can't let it out a little bit, we don't let it out at all. That's when anger builds into a rage, into violence. That's when anger becomes the problem and is construed as some tangent of mental health. I grew tired and frustrated with all the institutions inviting me to "breathe in/out" and "let that bad energy go" as though it were a bad belch waiting in my gut. As though anger was somehow a "bad" energy. And, hell, if they can be angry, why can't I? Let's just be angry.

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We should all be allowed to show our anger without fear of having the cops called on us. The more we see it, the less scared of it we would be. The more we can let our anger out the less destructive it can be.

Anger is the root of all the good stuff in the world. All the good art or music or movies are good because they served as an outlet for an energy we deemed unhealthy to let out otherwise.


So, I give you my permission to be angry about whatever it is that makes you angry. Go ahead, let it all out. The trick is to not hurt anyone in the process, or break something that wasn’t yours to break. I would also advise making sure your dogs aren’t around when you do it.

David Pennington
David Pennington

Writing would be great if it weren't the only thing I knew how to do. I publish as much as I can, you'll just have to wait for the rest.  

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