Of course, it begins with Frank Chimero:
Note to self: Imagine how many grievances would evaporate on their own if you didn't have a place to store them.
— Frank Chimero (@fchimero) August 25, 2014
This is a compelling hypothetical that just happened to enter my life at the most opportune time: the night before my newsletter goes out. To me, the beauty of this statement lies in the lack of simplicity. Speaking to himself in the way that people with thousands of Twitter followers often speak to themselves on Twitter, Chimero tasks the reader with first counting their grievances, assigning a physical size and weight to them, then imagining their life without that weight. It’s appealing at first glance in the way that the “What’s In Your Backpack” speech from Up in the Air is initially appealing, but it holds up much better under scrutiny. Clooney’s character advocates emotional detachment as a means of fulfilling a possible biological destiny, but Chimero’s Imperative avoids the asceticism trap by explicitly not prescribing an alternative to the harboring of grievances.
Finding a Neck to Choke
Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty out there to be mad about. The world is full of injustice, malevolence and unequal treatment. It’s a sad commentary on our society that it doesn’t matter when you are reading these words, there will always be depressing current events to relate to this topic. But in so many cases, actually seeking redress for our grievances is a futile and exhausting process for several reasons:
- It’s a long shot that you can even determine the party responsible for causing your pain,
- If you can determine who is on the hook, it’s often unlikely that you have the time / power / resources to seek retribution, and
- Even if you are able to pursue the offender, the payoff is rarely “justice” when you factor in the cost of the pursuit.
So many times, for so many reasons, it just isn’t worth it.
It Was Your Neck All Along
You get to decide how you feel about a thing, and how those feelings affect your personal interactions. Instead of shaking your fists in impotent rage every day, look for ways to take that energy and redirect it into putting good things into the world.