This is what hell is like, I thought, as I looked towards the thrashing, angry ocean fighting itself and getting nowhere. The water rose in frustration and slammed against the beach, grinding rocks into colored pebbles. It was a thing of all motion and no progress, like anger.
Can you see anger in a place, or a non-living thing? Or, do emotions only make sense to humans? On the early morning streets of Italy, as I walked to school, past St. Peter’s Square, I saw two men cursing at each other in Italian. Their arms talked as loud as their mouths, and their faces were red. One had parked the other in.
Another time I saw homeless people wrapped in rags and dirt, and drunk on cheap beer throwing glass bottles at each other. Most of the bottles smashed without harm into a thousand pieces on a nearby chain link fence. Maybe one had stolen the other’s burn barrel.
You see a lot of anger when traveling, both in others and yourself. Navigating new languages and cultures is overwhelming, and sometimes you just can’t contain it anymore. Most of this anger centers around the stupidity of the way things are done. When in reality things aren’t stupid, just out of your comfort zone.
Once a man got angry at me. We were docked at a Moroccan port and I had forgotten to get my passport stamped. They wouldn’t let me off the ship. I waited until the passport man drove back from home and placed a bit of ink in my travelogue. He was furious and used the opportunity of having a captive audience to rant about the disrespect of Americans. In reality, I was not trying to be disrespectful. I was merely ignorant. My ignorance about the world makes me angry with myself. I wish I knew more about other people and places than I do.
A good amount of anger when traveling is due to discord between people. One thinks one thing, and another something else. Our stories are different, but both make sense. Anger, in this instance, becomes a game of fools.
But, the angriest thing I have ever seen had to be that ocean thrashing against it’s constraints. It shuttered and rocked like water in a bath tub trying to contain a two year old. There was noise too, a resounding slap that was wet and low, as it hit the shoreline.
Humans are always misunderstanding each other, failing to bridge the gap between culture, words, and actions. Anger arises from our faults, not our successes. This is not impressive, but unfortunate.
When someone breaks our routine, our comfort, we resort to anger. It is such a futile emotion, and a reminder that we need to get outside of our pretty little doll houses and find compassion in the world.
But, nature’s anger is beautiful, powerful. It demands respect, and is boundless energy. Anger like this awes us in to submission. We stand, fixated on shore, watching the water swirl unto itself, consuming itself until the time it lays calm and flat, tired and bored.