Working with Anger Through Creative Expression

The topics of anger and rage have come up frequently in conversations I’ve had since the events at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. I saw a user (@alexanderchee) post on Twitter that “the gentlest people I know are full of rage and grief.” I’ve felt these emotions myself in reckoning with difficult aspects of recent events. The purpose of this post is to normalize feeling intense emotions and to explore creative outlets for expressing and understanding emotions such as anger and rage (an intensified version of anger). A poem by Jalaluddin Rumi likens the human experience to a guest house as emotions come and go from our lives: The Guest House This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes As an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has…

On the Assault on the US Capitol

Yesterday was a hard and significant day. As someone who spent much of my past career in public service, including working in the US Senate for eight years, I feel it’s important to say something. First, to acknowledge the violation that occurred: white supremacy on parade in halls that should be safe for all people of our nation. An assault on democracy. It is the harvest of the hate, disinformation and destruction sown by a presidency that from its outset embraced the callous and casual violation of women’s bodies. So, the result that our nation’s most sacred institutions have been similarly violated is sickening but not surprising. Much that is sacred has been desecrated. We need both accountability and repair as we move into a new time of hope and healing. May the “better angels of our nature” that Lincoln referred to in his First Inaugural Address come forth so that we are able to dig deep and be present for the work that must be done. These are significant and ungrounding events. They will take time to process. Our strongest emotional responses, including sorrow and anger, can be embraced as guides to the deeper issues that need attention and…

Death and Life: A Memorial for Unmourned Animals

“Death and Life” is a memorial piece I completed this year for unmourned animals. The skull is from the remains of a horse I encountered apparently dumped in the desert with a pile of garbage. I wanted to offer the horse some care in death that it may not have received in life. Over last winter I cleaned the skull with great care. As spring came, I began to find newly-hatched bird eggs everywhere — swallow, robin, and dove. The mosaic on the skull is made from the eggshells. For me the new life symbolized by the eggs also reflects the hope that comes through lovingkindness and the ways all living things are interconnected. ⚠️**Content warning: the paper and video below contain a photo of the horse’s skeletal remains as found and references to other animal deaths and cruelty.**  I presented the story of Death and Life at the 2020 Quantum Storytelling Conference in December and the narrative will be published with the conference proceedings. This paper is currently available online here: davidboje.com/quantum under “Death and Life Storytelling.” The video below is a recorded version of the presentation, including the story of the discovery of the horse, the process of…

Holding Gently: A Transformative Dream

          For years dreams have been an important source of meaning for me. Sometimes a certain dream seems to have an enduring message that continues to apply to various life situations and contexts, or it seems to map to an existing mythology. I’d like to share the story of one of those special dreams that I had several years ago, and some of the meanings I’ve found in it. In the dream, I was walking along a dirt path in a natural place, with tall green grass, trees, and a lake nearby. I found, on the ground in front of me, a duck egg, cracked open lengthwise with almost half the shell missing. The duck inside took up most of the shell and looked embryonic, wet. I picked up the egg and cupped it in my hands to get a better look. At first I felt disappointed, as though the duck would never make it, and that it was too bad the egg got broken. But then, the duck started to develop in fast-forward, cupped in the palm of my hand in the broken shell. Warm light energy surged up into my hands and through the…

Integration

Sometimes when we share ourselves with someone, parts of us become hurt through painful relationship experiences or losses. Or in the course of life, we experience difficult or even tragic events that seem to shatter us. We are then faced with a choice (which is not always conscious). Do we cut off those hurt parts of our self, never to face them again? Or do we begin the slow, sometimes difficult, but ultimately rewarding process of reclaiming those parts, nurturing them, and inviting in healing? The latter can help us move towards wholeness. In addition to our inner world of thoughts and feelings, our physical surroundings and activities can give us clues about parts of self that need to heal. Are there places, spaces, activities, or belongings that have negative connotations? Are they triggers for anxiety, dread, sadness, or shame? When the time is right, with care and gentleness, these hurt places can be approached, allowing you to reclaim valuable parts of yourself and to let go of that which no longer has a place with you. In a similar way, do certain experiences, people, places make a forgotten part of you come alive? Follow that impulse. The work of…