Burn, rave, rage: Understanding the feelings | Moment's Notice

Series: Coronavirus | Story 172

Last updated 5/7/2020 at 9:54am

“Rage on. It’s A-OK,” said my friend/sage to me this morning, as I apologized for some strong reactions to this new normal.

March, April, May, all with days under a stay-at-home order, I find myself experiencing a range of emotions within the span of only a few hours, one of which is rage. Sadness, gratitude, worry, relief, apprehension, guilt all make the list.

There is no need to rehash the reports of the pandemic stress and anxiety we are experiencing, but sometimes recognizing and accepting them is challenging.

Rage may seem like an unexpected feeling for me to name, but anger has an object, and it would not be accurate to say that I am angry at a virus. The word “passion” may be an expression of the strength of the reaction, but is too muted.

The term “wrath” definitely does not work, as it implies a violent outcome against someone.

The concept of rage is uncomfortable, but if you think about the word’s meaning, it is an innate or instinctive response to something stressful or frustrating – it is intense. My temper rarely flares, but when it does, it is nearly unconscious, so I often find myself fighting it.

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As we get older and wiser, are we not supposed to become calmer? I have always said that I do not want to lose my strong reactions to things, to become complacent. Burn, rave, rage – that’s what Dylan Thomas told us to do.

The development of this rage was progressive, I suppose. It all started with discomfort, with the uncertainty, and the concern over the effects of this virus on the lives of so many. Anger grew as we understood the origins of the virus’ spread and the reactions to it by many governments across the world.


The rage grew so slowly, in fact, that I did not identify it until recently, nor did I realize its wide scope.

The weaknesses of and inequities in our global economy are practically screaming in the glare of the COVID-19 spotlight, with glaring clarity of how so many will suffer for so very long.

Technology made the transition to the stay-home lifestyle more palatable for those who have ready access, but the disconnection and solitude of the modern world make it even harder to value each other as individuals.

We often seem to discuss public health and economic issues as if they can be considered separately – these are not an either-or or now-then matters. Those who survive this pandemic, physically and financially intact, are not more capable, not smarter, and certainly not chosen or blessed.

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Also, I miss my mom.

I recently heard this year described as starting with us standing on the shore, watching a wave come in until eventually it engulfed us, and now we float in the water, unable to reach dry land. This pandemic challenges much of what we thought we knew, or at least what we thought someone knew. What we thought was important seems in stark contrast with what is important.

There are so many other emotions that do compete for my psychological time, and not all of them are negative or even aggressive. We are still among the fortunate ones, logistically able to weather the restrictions, and no one in our immediate circle of loved ones has yet become seriously ill.

This luck is definitely most present in my thoughts, but I am not one comfortable with ease.

That wise friend, the one who told me to rage on, understood that we have to feel what we feel.

Give me rage, and more importantly, give me the strength to channel it to bring something positive with the few unique tools I have to respond, not only react.


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