Maybe this isn’t very unusual. Maybe you’re like this too. I’m pretty good in a crisis. When something major goes wrong, I’m usually able to keep things together. All it takes is simply taking a deep breath and doing what needs to be done without panic. “Okay, everyone stop screaming and let’s just look for the finger.” But…
But when it comes to the little things, the small annoyances of life, I go off the deep end. “Can anyone explain to me why it’s so frigging’ difficult to replace a roll of toilet paper?” This question often leads to a ten minute, profanity-laced diatribe on common courtesy, laziness, and responsibility.
“Are you kidding? Why does this one shoe keep coming untied!!! Shit!”
“Motherfuckin’ housefly! Land you son-of-a-bitch!”
“Where are my glasses?”
“Who’s been stealing all my socks?”
“Where’re those damn keys?”
“Who took the scissors?”
“Where’s the fuckin’ remote?”
“Could you park closer to the line asshole?“
“AH! Why do I keep dropping stuff today?”
“Stop chewing in my goddamn ear!”
“You’ve got to be shitting me! Are all the radio stations playing Kool and the Gang at the same fucking time?”
For some reason, the more insignificant something is, the more aggravated it makes me. I’ve even gotten overly annoyed because I was yawning too often. “Son-of-a-bitch, stop yawning!!!!” But why? Why when the whole world seems to be crumbling can I keep my cool, but when my cell phone drops a call I want to take a sledgehammer to it?
Here’s my thought:
Is it the short amount of time in a test that drives you nuts, or the ticking of the clock? The ticking is worse because it is a constant reminder that the time is short and getting shorter and that you may not finish before it runs out. Likewise, the small annoyances, the little things that go wrong are constant reminders that none of this is in our control. That at any given time something can go wrong. At any moment an obstacle can come out of nowhere to block the way to your goal, whether that goal is to get something out of cabinet without banging your funny-bone on the door, or if that goal is to live to be 90.
Those little things are the ticking of the clock that reminds us we’re spinning very fast in a volatile universe full of destructive forces and giant rocks. At any given moment that proverbial piano can fall on your head and end it all (or more likely a distracted driver, a stray bullet, or a gas leak). I’m walking to the mailbox and trip over my shoelace, dammit! Just a little reminder that it also could’ve been an out of control bus.
Of course maybe the answer is simply that it’s human nature to hate interruptions, blockades, and divergences. I have a goal, read this text. Can’t do it without my glasses. Now I have a new goal: find my glasses. This diverts me from my first goal, which was to read the text. Ugh! It’s annoying just thinking about it.
Whatever the reason why, the real question I suppose is what to do about it? My guess is, I don’t exercise enough, don’t sleep enough, and don’t manage my time well. It seems that when I have an outlet for my frustrations such as exercise, and am well rested after a good night’s sleep, and I’m not rushing around trying to get a lot done in too short amount of time, not only do little setbacks not annoy me as much, but they actually seem to occur less often. And so, in order to live a happier, profanity-free life, I am consciously making an effort to get to the gym, regulate my sleep time, and manage my time better. (So if you catch me taking a nap, I’m not being lazy, I am actively trying to save my life from a falling piano.) Of course that doesn’t change overnight. So what do I do in the meantime?
One sage advised, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It is all small stuff”. Exactly, and that’s the problem. Now where is that fuckin’ remote!