Under the Surface

I don’t know whether it issued from the anticipation of another family holiday experienced all over the U.S., with its potential for innuendo and unresolved feelings boiling over, or whether it was strictly a formal aesthetic idea, but the other day I closed my eyes and immediately saw a cool blue and turquoise surface partially obscuring a roiling hot-lava ooze underneath.  The idea of cool concealing hot intrigues me because it reflects not only the physical world, but the mental and spiritual world.  Someday I will go to the Hawaiian Islands and witness for myself the pyroclastic flow steaming into the ocean!

Sometimes people are like cracked earth concealing hot lava underneath; they feel angry-hot inside for one reason or another, but don’t show it to others until it is no longer controllable and it erupts in a degrading and disrespectful display.  I think that we learn in subtle ways that anger is not justifiable and that we need to ignore and beat it back, rather than learn from it and use it to make our lives more focused.  My friend shared an old book with me about this subject.  The book is titled The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships, written by Harriet Lerner. The author has written a number of other books in the intervening years, expanding on the same topic.  To a certain extent, both women and men have learned that to express anger is inappropriate .  Therefore, we have no idea what to do with the anger that we inevitably feel in the course of our existence!  Often the result is that we can be nice on the surface, but undercut each other and subvert each other’s plans through exemplary politeness, but lethal back-stabbing.  It would be much better not to look outside ourselves to place blame for our unhappiness and unfulfilled needs, but to look inside ourselves for information about our needs and reasonable solutions to having our needs met.

There can also be a positive connotation to hot on the inside and cool on the outside- an example would be the person who exhibits self-control and kindness to the world, but is high-spirited inside, full of life and warmth and imagination.  Most often, the metaphor for this interior life is that of a spring of water, life-giving water, but this does not do justice to the temperature of the temperament inside.  Fire is more apt for this.

So, here is my little mosaic made in the image I found behind my eyelids the other day, smoldering underneath a chilly line-up of sharp crystals.  I hope your Thanksgiving holiday smolders only with life and warmth, not anger and unrequited love!