The Shade of Wisdom – The Good Men Project


Sometimes you have a bad day. No one is to blame. Life happens.

I’ve learned the only way to avoid falling into the deep, dark abbess of irritation is to hang on to the edge. Tight. Both hands.

I have my “go-to” places and my “go-to” thoughts, but like the local blackbirds, I like to squawk a bit, before flying away. Then I head straight as a crow flies to the twin trees in Vasona Park and preen under the shade of their wisdom. I intentionally block the negativity going off in my head like firecrackers on the forth of July. At times this means avoiding the truth, and like an insomniac, I wait for the feeling of normal to return.

I am aware that I’m allowing a past event to determine my present mood. In my experience, it is usually better to let the present moment, define the present moment. So I stop ranting for a second and reevaluate my circumstances. Right now I am sitting under my twin trees, gazing over the placid pond, birds serenading me, enjoying the silence, and the peace. If I had a cup of warm coffee I’d be gold. It’s the unbridled thinking that gets me into trouble. If only I had a mute button for my superfluous thoughts.

Anger is one way to deal with deep levels of frustration but I find it a cheap substitute for real communication. Sometimes I feel like a chemistry experiment gone wrong. The best solution to this conundrum is to override my system with serotonin. Walk, hike, run, or swim as far, and as long as possible. When I feel a sense of wellbeing return I stop, give thanks, eat, rest, and of course, write.

These episodes can be a window into a deeper sense of self. A sort of spiritual awaking. I notice how my empathy goes into overdrive and my perspective on just about everything changes. Something like, “my brokenness understands your brokenness.” And for a brief moment our normally imperceptible connection becomes shockingly visible and I realize I am not alone.

I remember when I was a young mother and spent a good amount of time hanging onto the edge. I didn’t have the freedom to run off when needed but an organic solution appeared on its own. The minivans would start pulling up my driveway around five in the evening. The working mom’s and the stay-at-home mom’s would come together and commiserate about our day. We used to call these pity parties. Wine was definitely involved. It was cheap therapy and it worked.

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that something deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

I’m not proud of this but I tend to classify people as either good or bad, essentially avoiding those I consider off-track, along with the associated train wrecks. The truth is we are all seasoned with a little of both. Keeping the bad in check can be a full time job. Some people lose control, and allow the bad to obliterate the good, but this is extremely rare. Seeing this in myself is a gentle reminder of the dignity of all people. I think it was Plato who said, “Be nice, we’re all fighting invisible battles.”

Join the pity party and leave a few unbridled irritations in the comments.

A version of this post was previously published on and is republished here with permission from the author.


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The Shade of Wisdom – The Good Men Project