Pick of the Week: My Wasted Life & Anger Management

I have spent the entire week frittering between a casino and a hotel in Johannesburg South Africa. I step outside into the African air for less than one minute per day. That’s how long it takes me to get from the hotel to the casino and yet, when asked, I will say that I once traveled to South Africa. Maybe the person who is listening to me will say that I am a lucky man. That’s usually what happens. I don’t feel lucky. Instead I feel like wasted opportunity.

This week two things struck me.

Strike One: Take the Most of Your Opportunities

A visit to South Africa can be seen as an exciting opportunity or a chore. I decided to treat it as a chore. I didn’t even see the exciting possibility. It must have been playing hide and seek when I last looked. The plan was to get in, work hard, and get out as quickly and painlessly as possible. My assumption is the work doesn’t fulfill me. I can’t splash my creative colours of paint onto the canvass that is the poker tournament. It’s too repetitive for me. It is often tedious, my body aches like an old man and I can’t wait for each day to end so I can retire to my room to write about something else, or speak to my baby on Skype.

In future I intend to view life somewhat differently. Seek out opportunity instead of angst. Number 47 on my Bucket List says, ‘Visit a Safari.” Tomorrow as I fly home some of my colleagues have arranged to do just that. If I had viewed this trip with optimism and enthusiasm then I would have found that safari. The one saving grace about this trip is I have learned an important lesson in life. It’s a lesson that’s familiar to me, and one I deploy from time to time, but need to crystalise. It’s to look at every event and seek out the value and exploit it. So I am not angry when I should be, because I know that my next trip – to Copenhagen in Denmark – is going to be the first of many trips where I get the maximum value out of it.

Even when the situation seems dire enough to scream, there will be something of value that you can pull out of the entrails. Just keep reminding your mind and eventually it will become like riding a bike.

Talking about screaming.

Strike Two: Controlling Anger

I am an angry person. As I get older I understand that anger does nothing except kill me slowly. My counselor suggested that I maintain an angry log and it has been a great idea. Essentially, the angry log is a section in my Thinking Journal where I write down the details of events that have made me lose my temper during that specific day. I grade the events with 1 being an event I was in control of and 10 being an event where I wanted to pull someone’s eye out of their socket with a spoon, and feed it to them. I am not getting so many eyeball gouging incidents since I started. I am catching myself in the moment. The road signs have been erected in my mind and they stop me from skidding over the cliff.

I am on the plane flying over here. The person sitting in the seat in front of me insists on reclining his chair so his head is resting in my lap. I can smell the dandruff and it makes it very difficult to write 16,000 words on my laptop, but write them I do.

When I arrive at Joberg airport there is supposed to be a driver waiting for me. As I walk through customs the sheer number of placards revealing so many different names dazzles me. None of them “DAVY’. Someone has let me down once again. I am in the most dangerous city in the world, hence the reason I arranged for a driver. But I decide that I can’t wait no longer and put my life on the line and hail a cab. Seriously, I always think cab drivers are going to steal my money and rape me. This is another issue I need to deal with.

I get to the hotel in tact and they have never heard of me. I contact my colleagues and they don’t know what has happened. Nobody seems that interested as I sit in the foyer reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill on my Kindle. It’s a bloody good read and chills me out, instead of thinking about the possibility of sleeping on the streets with my suitcase as a pillow. I eventually ring a colleague, who doesn’t work for the company I am freelancing for, and she finds me a place.

When I get there I am informed that I will have to pay for the Internet because it has not been provided. I pay 399 Rand for the Internet and for two days it keeps cutting out. I ring the Internet company and they tell me there is nothing they can do about it. I keep my calm and insist. The problem continues all week.

I try to take a shower and the water is cold. The showerhead then starts spewing my water out in droplets so tiny that it is barely getting me wet. I decided to have a cold strip wash. The sort my Mum used to give me when I was a child to save on water costs. It makes me itch. It used to make me itch back then as well.

I get into work and the Internet doesn’t work. Then there is no power and my laptop battery goes dead. There is no methodology of recognising the player’s names. The casino asks me if they can do anything to help me. I write out my list and they immediately fix everything. They wonder why this wasn’t requested in advance, as they would have had it ready for me. I am a freelancer working to the orders of a company. I could get angry but decide to eat an apple instead.

I am in my eighth week of an eight-week liver cleanse diet. I have never seen so much meat in my life. It is extremely difficult to find anything to eat. I feel emaciated. Like a heroin addict just wasting away. I wonder if the aching in my body really is the job, or whether my bones have just dislodged, as I get skinnier in the country that just seems to love its meat, more than the lions that people pet for money down the road.

The next morning I get hot water. I am in the shower when the phone rings. That cannot be good news, but this water is so warm. Eventually, there is a knock on the door. I drag my skinny arse over to the door and answer it. There is a man standing there and he asks me what am I doing here? The company that I am working for has only booked me into the hotel for two nights. I will have to leave immediately.

A few weeks ago each day would have registered a ten on the anger Richter scale. But this week when I have carried out my review I have barely simmered over a two. Nothing has seemed to phase me this week except my own stupidity of not spending more time in what appears to be a wonderful city.

I realise that was quite a long-winded way of saying this, but if you have an anger problem, then using an anger log really does work. It takes time, of course, but eventually you start to question your reactions before they become a reaction. It is almost as if you are developing a choice before acting, something that never happened before I started to this process of review.

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  1. It sounds like this trip had two purposes: to give you a chance to exercise new skills, and to give you a reason to come back. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow.

    I’m fortunate that I’ve never had an anger problem, especially concerning things over which I have no control.

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