The Rage Diaries

When my friend Tom moved to Portland, he initiated himself into the city by writing stories that started with each letter of the alphabet. He’d wait until he stumbled upon something interesting that started with “A” and then write an essay about it. Then “B”, and so on.

I copied this approach with a project of my own that I called “The Rage Diaries” to accompany me through the worst months of letting go. Every night, I’d write a brief rage explosion based on whatever wanted to rise up and meet the daily letter, such as, “C is for Coyote” and “S is for Stomach.” It was like stringing together a necklace of beads that no one would want to come within a mile of. Imposing a random structure gave me a kind of organizational principle that was loose enough to follow my grief through its endless associations.

The writing that came through was like nothing I had ever penned before — more like a blade moving clean through the paper.

In a short time, I had completed 26 essays that had given my heartbreak a wide palate of expression. The effect for me was one of wringing out a wet towel again and again while standing in a downpour until I couldn’t hold my arms up any longer. I was exhausted, purified, burned to the wick’s end.

(This is why I think it’s important to travel so deep into rage.)

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What is your most natural or fun mode of expression? Consider using that as a palate for some rage play. Maybe you could make a rage collage, knit a rage scarf, do a rage dance improv, or even develop a rage spreadsheet or PowerPoint or sandcastle. Making some kind of art project out of rage can give you permission to meet the truth of your feeling. And it can help you mine beauty and insight from your darkest places.

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