Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Don't get angry. There's no point.

I was so inspired this morning by an interview on Radio 4 with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama? Inspiring you say? Well I never.

Okay I know he’s universally adored, and respected, and is inspirational to so many people but I realised when I was listening to the interview that I’ve never really heard him speak at length before, and certainly not in such a relaxed way.

Cos’ here’s the thing. The Dalai Lama? He is one cool cat. He was laughing and joking, and, as was later revealed by the interviewer, holding her hands during the interview. Totally relaxed, totally cool. And his laugh! Man, he laughs like Sid James. Seriously. So infectious. Maybe not as downright dirty as Sid James, but it has that same mischievous quality.

Anyway, what inspired me was a particular exchange in which the interviewer asked him if he ever felt angry with the Chinese government. When he answered in the negative the interviewer was somewhat incredulous. After all, this is the regime which has persecuted the Tibetan people for decades, denying them of basic human rights, imprisoning them, committing widespread torture, and causing Tibetan people who have felt so passionately about the cause of Tibetan freedom to set themselves on fire, in desperate acts of protest.

He doesn’t feel any anger? The interviewer asked him again.

His answer – “There’s no point. If I develop anger, suffer myself."

Just think about that for a while. I did. And then I remembered the previous day in my office when I got angry at my computer for running slowly, and then got angry at my mouse for no good reason, but it certainly got a firm tap, tap, tap from my index finger. I got angry at the hold music while trying to get through to an insurance company. That’s a lot of anger in a short space of time. And this guy doesn’t have any anger towards the Chinese authorities.

I suddenly felt very stupid about the anger I had directed towards inanimate objects the day before.

I resolved to try to be less quick to anger, more understanding of things that usually frustrate me. Because there’s no point. The Dalai Lama is right. It does you no good. Anger is ultimately turned inwards and only serves to hurt you.

So the next time you feel the rage building when your printer chews up your paper, or someone bumps into you and doesn’t apologise, or you need to phone BT, just let it go. Don’t get angry. There’s no point. Let it go. Or at least direct it towards something useful and creative.

I’ve tried today and I feel a lot better for it.

But if you think it’s too hard to let some things pass, don’t worry. The Dalai Lama did admit that while he has no anger towards the Chinese government, if his assistants do something wrong he just “blows up”. He said this with a huge burst of laughter, and a huge smile burst on to my face. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Adam 'MCA' Yauch 1964-2012

I flicked the channel to MTV. The Beastie Boys were playing. A tribute to Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch it said in the top corner of the screen. This seemed odd because they don’t usually do tributes for artists that are alive. But I thought, well he deserves it because he’s a visionary genius. Then my brain started to tell me something I never wanted to hear. He’s dead. MCA is dead. Why else would there be a tribute programme?

A few seconds later my fears had been confirmed. Adam Yauch, founder member of the Beastie Boys, film-maker, producer, activist and tireless campaigner, had died of throat cancer at the age of 47.

I was devastated by this news. I haven’t been this affected by the death of someone I didn’t know personally since John Peel died.

The Beastie Boys have been a vital part of my life since I was 11 years old. Their music helped me make it through my teenage years and my twenties. I grew up with these guys as they grew up themselves. I identified with their changing attitudes and became interested in the issues they were increasingly spotlighting.

Adam Yauch always seemed like the most politically aware member of the group. His work in raising awareness of the unjust treatment of native Tibetans by the region's Chinese occupiers, including co-founding the Milarepa Fund, is testament to this. I am sure his work will be carried on by others whom he has inspired.

He was a great musician, the best rapper in the group, a talented director, a genuinely funny man. He was also, as far as I could tell, a really nice guy. I don’t know for sure but it certainly seemed that way.

What I do know is that out of all the comments, and articles, and blogs, and tweets that have poured forth since Friday, not one person will have a bad word to say about Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch. And that speaks volumes.