Just minutes ago, my fingers slid down along the ridges of Humphrey’s back, stopping to curl around his tail and meet each other. The tips of my middle, ring, and pinky fingers grazed the rough, unglazed underside of his flukes, and I slowly raised my right hand-whale in grip-and whipped it through the air, smashing Humphrey on the hard surface of our kitchen counter. A sharp crack resounded. Shards of bluish-gray ceramic spewed everywhere. I inadvertently shrieked. As I slowly came to myself, holding a decapitated whale in one hand and covering my mouth in shock at what I had just done with the other, I stood frozen among the ceramic ruins of what had once been my friend, and softly began to cry.
Just kidding. I didn’t really smash Humphrey.
What was the point of that opening paragraph, then? I’m glad you asked. Partly, I wanted to exploit a catchy title I came up with a few days ago; and partly, I wanted to try out the literary technique of deceiving your audience that a classmate’s paper successfully got me with last week. But aside from these, I offer this account of smashing Humphrey because it is actually plausible. At times, I am tempted to smash things-hard, precious, unquestionably breakable things-sometimes even Humphrey. Imagining myself actually acting on this impulse helps remind me that I would regret such an action moments later. I vividly remember a time when I did give in to the smashing temptation, and broke a beautiful, hand-carved and hand-painted hairbrush that my parents had given me for Christmas, in a moment of rage that immediately gave way to deep regret the instant after my destructive choice. I was about 13 or 14, I think. I still wish I hadn’t done that. Sometimes the reasons behind our desire to smash things (I don’t think I’m alone in this, somehow) are quite legitimate: the pressure of unrealistic demands for excellence in every single college course, especially intensified during the final weeks of the semester, confused anger at the injury and rejection of a once-trusted friend, frustration at the hindering role of exhaustion to academic and relational aspirations. The list could be quite extensive. But while anger is often understandable, it is rarely constructive. The opposite is usually true (review opening vignette).
So, instead of smashing Humphrey or engaging in some other destructive coping mechanism, I think it’s a better idea to attempt the diversion of my angry energy into something more constructive…and so I find myself fantasizing about smashing my ceramic whale and writing a blog post on it instead of working on my huge final paper due in less than a week. Oops. 🙂
And oh well! I’ve enjoyed this post, and I hope you have, too…and who knows? Maybe it’ll even help both of us to think twice the next time we’re tempted to smash something-or to abuse someone, or to let off steam through a stream of cuss words, or to get rip-roaring drunk, or to leap on top of the tables in the cafeteria and start chucking food at anybody who seems judgmental, or whatever particular destructive temptation we find ourselves faced with in the moment.
In closing, I’d like to offer the words of James 1:19-21…I feel just a tiny bit like a fraud in doing so-I’m not even sure where my own Bible is at the moment (I think it fell behind my bed?) and I haven’t made much time to read it this semester anyway-but nonetheless, I think these words are true, and this subject reminds me of them, and I need them, and perhaps you do, too, so here they are: “Know this, my beloved brothers [and sisters]: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man [or woman] does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefor put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Have a smashing day, friends…haha.
No animals, inanimate or otherwise, were harmed in the making of this blog post.