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Flying Off the Handle

    Flying Off the Handle

    Moment Of Anger

    Flying Off the Handle. On one of the many trips back to my hometown in Alaska, I acquired an axe for chopping firewood on my island. The axe had been fairly heavily used but seemed to still be able to do its job.

    Flying Off the HandleAnd so I chopped away, and in one of these chopping sessions – you guessed it – the axe head came off the handle mid swing, and the axe head flew up in the air and landed several feet away from me.

    It was in this moment the term “flying off the handle” became more than a metaphor for me. It also gave me a visceral understanding of why flying off the handle is not a good thing.

    And so currently to the allegory part of our program. Figuratively flying off the handle generally means losing it. In my life when people have been accused of flying off the handle, it has usually been an explosive moment of anger.

    Generally, explosive moments of anger are not good for any of the people involved, either the angry person or the ones the anger is vented toward.

    There is substantial evidence that stress and stressors are cumulative. They are not separate entities. Usually, we can look at any one stress or, and it is probably not above a 2 or 3 on the 1-10 scale.


    Five 2s do not equal a ten in this case nor does your overall stress remain at level 2. So five 2s on our stress radar probably adds up to a 4 or 5 on the overall stress meter. Add a few more 2s, and the scale goes up. Add a 5 to these, and suddenly we can have what feels like a 9.

    stressWhen we hit 10, we blow a gasket, fly off the handle, lose it, go ballistic, and blow the doors off. Managing all of your stressors, large and small, becomes an important thing to do if you want to avoid flying off the handle.

    Some people say it is good to blow off a little steam once in a while, and I say is it is good not to arrive at the place where the pressure cooker can explode.

    In the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky work, we talked about accumulators. The concept of accumulators is that we take in air, water, food, and impressions, and all of these combined with sleep give us the fuel we need to do all of the things we do in life.

    On an average day we can use this fuel wisely, and it will hopefully last us until the end of the day when we can sleep and recharge the accumulators. On a stressful day we can, and do use up this fuel faster. And if the stresses become overwhelming, it takes nothing less than a small spark to set off an explosion.

    The way this looks in life is someone flying off the handle for no apparent reason. “All I said was, and BOOM!!!! the walls vibrated!””

    Flying Off the Handle

    According to Gurdjieff, when this happens, it is the equivalent of igniting all of the precious fuel at once. And the result is exhaustion. I have experienced this once or twice in my life and after looking at moments like these with new eyes I realized something very interesting.

    angerThe reason people often say it’s good to get it off your chest, have a blow up every once in a while, is often because there is a false sense of elation or accomplishment after such an episode.

    What seems not to be noticed is what happens an hour or so after this apparent release. What happens after the adrenalin dissipates from our system is almost always fatigue and lethargy, and the least we need in these moments is a long nap.

    So as with the axe, I say flying off the handle means maintenance is way overdue. And if we bear in mind the gas we utilize for things we want as well as need to do is tough won as well as valuable, this ought to aid to reduce having explosive minutes in our lives.

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