Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Other Guy: Letting Go Of Anger

A trait I feel I have been blessed with is my ability to not hang on to anger and not hold grudges. This doesn't mean I don't get angry (I do) or feel tempted to bear grudges (I am) nor does it mean that I haven't held grudges in my life (I have). As I get older, though, I find I am better about not holding on to anger and that I get over angry feelings relatively quickly. I'm glad this is a trait I possess. It sometimes makes life easier to deal with, especially when bad or painful situations are tossed my way.
I hope my saying that I feel I have this trait doesn't sound boastful. I truly do not mean it that way. I am just grateful it seems to be a gift God has blessed me with. Believe you me, there are other things I am not so good at, so I'm grateful for the positive traits I feel I do have.

Faithful readers of my blog may remember this post from a few months ago when I talked about trying to find the positive after some vandal randomly chose to break my car windshield. It was a senseless act and one which I was not too happy to experience, but I moved on from it pretty quickly.

While at work on Friday, I received a call from my mom. She called my actual work, which is unusual, so I knew it must be an emergency. I figured it must be something dementia-related, but it wasn't. She let me know that the Utah Transit Authority Police had called her because my car, which was left parked at the Murray-Fashion Place TRAX station (part of the Salt Lake Valley's public transportation system) had been broken into. Mom wasn't too clear on all the details, but it sounded like someone had smashed my window and possibly stolen some stuff.

I spent the last hour of rehearsal for my show worrying about my car and wondering what the thief or thieves could possibly have wanted to steal out of my car. Aside from some home-burned CDs, a broken iPod radio receiver, an out-of-date GPS, my car stereo system, and a snow brush, there really wasn't much to steal. And aside from the snow brush and the radio, none of those were in plain sight.

After calling the Utah Transit Authority Police office to let them know I was on my way, I was told a policeman would be there to take my report and to confirm with me whether anything had indeed been stolen. Once I got to the station, I checked my car. Someone had tried to pry the rear driver's side window open and ended up completely shattering it. There was glass everywhere and in places I wouldn't have expected it to go. For example, glass shards ended up in the crack where my trunk door hinges. A few pieces were on the driver's seat and in the window well of the back windshield. Most, of course, was all over the back seat and on the floor. It was a mess.

Much to my surprise, nothing was stolen. My stereo, my outdated GPS, my piece-of-crap iPod receiver, which I keep intending to throw away but never remember to, my homemade CDs, my snow brush, and all the papers in my glove box were accounted for. The policeman, who was in the vicinity, but whom I hadn't seen, told me he was sorry and asked if anything was stolen. I told him it didn't appear so. As I suspected, they had no leads. The theory is that the thief (or thieves) tried to wedge my rear window open with the intent of robbing me, but when the window shattered, possibly they freaked out and left. My guess is that they were after the GPS because the box it came in was under the driver's seat and perhaps they saw that. That didn't get stolen, either. I almost wish it had. That would have been a nice joke on them (as would the iPod radio adaptor).

While I was grateful they didn't steal anything, I almost wish they had just to make the broken window seem worth the trouble. Instead, like my last windshield breakage, it just seemed so pointless. Couldn't they have saved a step and not broken the window at all? Truly, the only thing they could have stolen that would have been annoying would be the GPS because I do use it a lot. But I also need a more up-to-date one, so even that wouldn't have been an irreplaceable loss.

Unlike the last time my car window was broken, I had a harder time letting go of my anger this time. I was angry. Angry at the inconvenience of getting my car repaired; angry at the cost of it at a time when I feel like I'm finally just getting back on top of my finances again; angry that the incident had caused my mom so much worry; angry that in an area that is usually so well-patrolled by the police, somehow this person (or these persons) could break into my car in broad daylight in an area that was highly visible; angry that of all the cars in the lot, mine and mine alone was the one they chose to damage; angry that the thief or thieves caused me to doubt my faith in humanity and in the innate goodness of man; angry that people must be so dishonest and selfish; etc.

My first thought was "I hope the jerk that did this gets what's coming to them." However, as time allowed me to cool down, I actually feel sorry for the thief. I'm sorry they are in a position in life where they feel their best option is to steal and/or damage another person's property. And I'm sorry the values they have been instilled with make them think that such behavior is okay.

I wondered if the perpetrator felt any remorse for his or her actions or if they ever will. Do they ever think about the consequences? Do they just feel a momentary rush from damaging someone's property or stealing someone's stuff and never think about it again? Or do they consider the damage they've caused; the sense of security they have stolen; the mess they have made; the cost and inconvenience they have caused the victim? I'd like to believe they do, but I suspect they don't.

In my prayers Friday night I only asked that the person who did this would feel remorse for their actions; not because I want God to punish them with bad feelings, but only because I would hope whatever situation they find themselves in that makes them desperate enough to break into another person's car, that they realize that that isn't the best solution and is ultimately more damaging to their soul than it is to me. I asked God to help them find a better way to get what they want; that if they're involved in something that is destructive to their well-being (for example, drugs or a gang or a life of crime), that they could find a way out; that they could know that Heavenly Father loves them and feel His love; that they know that this type of behavior will not help them be happy.

It was interesting; as I tried to let go of my selfish concerns - how much this was going to cost, when I would find time to repair this, what I would do for transportation the next day, etc. - and put my concern on the perpetrator, my anger dissipated. The fact is, this would-be thief is a person. It's so easy to see a thief or a vandal in the abstract and automatically endow them with negative qualities. It's true that this person may just be a horrible person, but it's equally likely that they are a lost and desperate soul at their wit's end. They could be struggling with issues that I can't even comprehend. That doesn't make what they did right or excusable, but I find it easier to forgive them if I endow them with sympathetic qualities. The fact is, I don't know who this person (or people) is (or are) or what cards life has dealt them that would put them in a position where they think breaking into another person's car is necessary or the only option at their disposal, nor do I think I will ever know in this lifetime. And really, I'm out $120 or so and perhaps some lost time and convenience; my perpetrator is dealing with soul-damaging consequences, whether he or she even realizes it yet. So, really, who's worse off, me or them?  I just hope whoever did this can find a better way to go through life than stealing and damaging other people's stuff.

The good news is nothing was stolen; the mess is cleaned up; my window frame is not so damaged that Technaglass can't repair it along with the broken window (which they are doing tomorrow during a time when I actually don't have to be to work, so that worked out well); the repair should only take an hour; the repair is estimated at $117, which is lower than I thought it would be, and even though it wasn't what I was planning on using my money for, the fact is I DO have the money to cover it (as well as a generous mother who offered to pay for it); and I have a $25-off coupon, so that will help a bit, too. So I'm in good shape and very blessed. It's the other guy - the vandal and would-be thief - I worry about.  After all, I'd rather have a shattered window than a shattered soul.

It's all about perspective, which I've discussed before in this blog. Actually, I'm also gaining new perspectives on my mom's dementia issues as well, which I hope to write about soon. Perspective and attitude are great keys to happiness, in my opinion. So is letting go of all the negative stuff.

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