Dear old and new friends,
Irritating frustration is common whenever our computers fail, rush hour traffic comes to a standstill or a neighbor mows his lawn at dawn on Sunday, only to mention three of untold annoyances that can cause angry outbursts. Even when we are innocent, we easily become targets of another’s anger; an irate fellow motorist, an impatient spouse or a grouchy boss. A good way to respond to other’s sudden angry explosion is to judge the outraged person as “being temporarily insane.” So thought the old Roman poet Horace who said, “Anger is a short madness.”
Brief bouts of madness are most often caused by any perceived attack on “the self” or something directly connected to the self. Consider the instance of a driver who fantasizes the highway is his own private byway. He races up behind you in traffic and shouts, “You f#*x#*g old white headed slowpoke.” Honk…honk…honk. “Get out of my way!” Instead of recycling anger with anger, use the legally excusing factor of our justice system and judge him as suffering from temporary insanity, and serenely continue on your way.
If, however, it is you who suffer from frequent brief bouts of anger, consider praying for help to the patron saint of lunatics and madmen, the Irish Saint Fillan. This eighth-century Irish hermit’s hermitage was in Scotland, and he was legendary for his calming influence on those considered mad. Centuries after his death people thought to be crazy were plunged into the icy cold water of Strathfillan, a deep pool near his old hermitage. Dripping wet, chilled to the bone, they were then tied up tightly with ropes and left overnight in the saint’s tiny old chapel. If in the morning their ropes were found untied they were considered to be cured.
If you wish to be freed of your brief attacks of madness you don’t have to go on a pilgrimage to Strathfillan. Instead develop a peaceful lifestyle of slowly eliminating being disturbed by mistakes, both yours and others. Also cultivate an acceptance of life’s irritating irregularities as being an unavoidable aspect of human nature.
If in spite of all your efforts, you experience an uncontrollable attack of anger, take a contemporary cure of good Saint Fillan—a cold shower! Or cool down by briefly breathing deeply. Usually you’ll find you’ve been touched by an Irish miracle as your brief madness evaporates into thin air.