This column begins with a rather personal confession. Most of my life, I've fought real hard to control my emotions and contain my temper. At times, I've miserably failed, and it's proven costly. That's not something to point to with pride.
In recent years - perhaps the inevitable result of gaining maturity and drifting from youth toward middle age - I've done a better job of self-control. But always lurking beneath that calm surface is a perpetual fear that it could come apart again, with real consequences.
Along the way, what I've learned, and I'm pretty sure millions of others have also learned, is that sound decisions are not made in anger. Maybe it's healthy to express one's desires and fears and uncertainties, but when you have crucial choices to make, it's important to have a clear heart - and a clearer mind.
All this is related because, on Nov. 2, we're about to make a rather crucial decision at the polls. Okay, so it doesn't measure up to the immense weight of history, combined with deep emotions, felt two years ago at this time. It's doubtful that we will ever feel that way again.
Instead, these midterm elections have developed into a temperature gauge on the American pressure cooker. Given all the problems - a sputtering economy, continuing housing crisis, a never-ending war in Afghanistan, immigration issues, the environment, health care - it's very easy to understand that voters are angry.
How they have used that anger, and how it's been covered, says a lot about us. From the Tea Party crowd wanting to "take their country back" to the progressives angry at Barack Obama for not getting to every single item on their agenda since entering the White House, people are not shy about expressing how mad they are.