One of the guys is an English starting actor in his early 30s. He is short, fit, and happens to be a boxer. We were all having drinks while we played except him as he had some lines to memorize.
At some point during the end, I headed towards him to ask about something he had told me he would hook me up with but never did. Then all of a sudden, the bloke punched me in the chest. I took a step backwards and tripped over a bowling shoe and fell. As some friends came to separate us, I got up and calmly told him:
What are you doing? Where is that anger coming from?
It seemed quite obvious to me at the time that the lad had some inner issues — probably with me personally but certainly also with himself.
This happening took me by complete surprise. And I do not mean the part where he punched me; I mean the part where, for the first time in my life, I didn't react to violence using violence. This time, it felt like I wasn't capable of getting angry as I used to.
The next morning I heard some knocking on my attic door. It was him asking if he could come up the stairs, to which I said yes. He apologized for what he did, saying that I'm like an older brother to him. I said it's all good and even gave him a hug after we shook hands.
As I later pondered what happened, I felt proud of the new me. Back in the days, I would have blacked out and acted instantly, probably in a vicious way like it happened multiple times. This could be the first time in my life that I do not react, but choose to respond instead, and calmly too. It felt really wonderful to see the fruits of mastering oneself. The daily meditation must have been really doing the job.
Feeling proud of my novel, Gandhi-like behaviour, I shared the story on Facebook and got many encouraging comments.
What I haven't shared, though, was the final confrontation I had with the bloke before leaving the house.
On my last day, I said goodbye to everyone as I was waiting for the cab. I then thought I’d also say goodbye to him since he was right there, perhaps with a little “friendly reminder”.
“Goodluck man, I hope your life works out great. And remember, he who angers you controls you,” I smilingly said after a handshake.
“No,” he defensively replied as he stood there in his towel.
So as the first time I told him when he came to apologize, I once again said that this anger stems from something within him, not from me. To get physical with anyone who is only talking to you about some random topic and not even causing you a threat is certainly not me, it’s him.
Stuttering, he said: “No, I don’t agree, you invaded my private space.”
“I was only talking to you ,” I responded confidently.
“You were in my face that whole night. And you were drinking.”
“Being the only one who wasn’t drinking, that’s an even bigger reason why you should have never made it physical,” I told him, “I was SPEAKING to you and wasn't threatening you in any way.”
“Well, that’s what people like us do,” he confessed.
“You mean angry people?” I cut him off. “You know if this had happened a few years ago, I would have smashed your head with a bowling ball then get into a fit of hysterical laughter as I gaze at your bloody face in utter amusement. But now, I'm a peaceful warrior and my weapon is Love.”
Shaking his head in disagreement like an emotional child and stuttering even more: “No, you wouldn't have been able to do that. Why do you think you can give me advice? You were doing drugs in your past and you like to drink and smoke.”
Nothing really, only that I have lived four years more than you. And the fact that you bring this out now after I had once told you about my 20s means you're out of things to say.
And then he finally spitted it out: “Since you came here…you’re so…Alpha Male... .” He really said that. Of course at the time I couldn't hold smiling in disbelief. But it was a genuine Aha-Moment that spoke volumes.
Interestingly, he was the one who often wore only a towel around the house where three women lived, and he was the one boxing training every morning in the garden. So that “Alpha Male” thing is most probably a mere projection of his insecurity.
In my head then I realized that connecting with his inner person seems to be a lost cause. I found an insecure, troubled individual who is fighting himself and certainly not accepting it. I remember keeping my smile and telling him “Good luck man, take care” before taking my bags and leaving.
Having a knack for human behaviour and wanting to understand why things turned out this way, I later reflected upon what had happened between us during those first couple of weeks until that bowling night.
At the very start of my stay, I read the bloke a few lines I had written about sharing the house with him and the others. He said: It’s good that you write. I wish I could write, I don’t know how to.
Another time, I told him that since he trains almost everyday, drinking lots of water would be good for him. Oddly, he didn't seem convinced and said that he doesn't have to, or something like that.
A few days later, he mentioned to me that he's always hungry. So I asked if he doesn't usually eat full meals because he doesn't cook. My assumption came from never seeing him cook and always seeing him nibbling on some nuts or other small snacks. Again, I felt him get slightly defensive, but I don't think he denied it.
On more time, I jokingly told him: “If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding.
How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?” And the guy had no idea what I was talking about. Being an English actor in his thirties, I thought he was kidding. But apparently he wasn't, and he didn't even know what The Wall by Pink Floyd is!
Then some days later we were alone in the kitchen when he said, “Too many fucking shitty jobs.” I nodded in agreement.
This is when I thought about his anger and linked it to his career as a starting actor in Hollywood and all the difficulties, rejections, and insecurities they have to face to make it.
So it appears to me that things have been building up until that bowling night. Whatever the bloke's reasons were, getting physical is never justified.
You see, the fight angry people are fighting is not with others, it's with themselves. Once we understand this, we can indeed lead a peaceful life even in the face of violence. For he who angers you truly controls you.
Hotel Living: Then and Now
Personal Questions I'm Often Asked and Their Answers
Countering Gentrification — Eating Cheap and Healthy in Venice Beach [With a List of Places and Their Menus]
Things I Couldn't Quite Understand After Being On The Road For Seven Months
Why Hippies Are Sometimes Called Bohemians
The Joy of Being a Wanderer and the Credit Card Number
A Dollar & Thirty Four Cents in Me Pocket and Feeling Fine