Wednesday, January 7, 2015

34. Dumping the Frivolous

Almost all of us have pet peeves. Maybe you hate it when people chew with their mouths open, or clip their fingernails on the subway train, or crack their knuckles, or wear intoxicating perfume even though they share an elevator every day with 10 other people for 15 floors. Pet peeves come in all shapes and colors, but they are united by one commonality: a pet peeve will not kill you. Unless of course your pet peeve is when people drop lobster into your mouth when you're sleeping, and you're deathly allergic to shellfish. If that has happened to you enough times that it has become a pet peeve, you need to get some new roommates. Seriously, your insurance isn't gonna cover that much repeated anaphylactic shock. 

Daily annoyances exist for all of us, because we're human, and sometimes we don't have the patience or the willpower or the caffeine to be able to handle aggravations in our environment. But there is one more thing that unites all pet peeves and annoyances:


Daily annoyances (that don't actually directly impact our bodies or freedoms, or health, etc), don't actually hurt us. Most of us aren't aware of the fact that we're making the choice to be annoyed. When we're stuck in traffic and have no control over our situation, we are presented with a choice. We can either sit still and let rage percolate to a rising boil, or we can be patient. Either way to manage that situation will literally have no impact on the situation itself. No matter how much steam pours out of your ears, no matter how many curses fly from your mouth, no matter how many times you pound on the dashboard and accidentally turn on your windshield wipers, at the end of your temper tantrum, the traffic will still be there. 

It's interesting, because lack of control is one of the most intense triggers for people to become irritated. Sometimes that's a good thing, in the case of a revolution. When people are held in a society with no personal agency, things have to change. We need to have the fire that unites us to be able to accomplish change, and we can't incite change without motivation and frustration pushing us to want things to be different. But a revolution will not make the elderly, somewhat confused person in front of you in line at the bank move any faster. A revolution will not make the weather warmer. 

Just now, when I was trying to think of things that might annoy people, I had a very hard time thinking of anything. That's because, since finishing the Appalachian Trail, frivolous annoyances frankly don't bother me anymore. The Appalachian Trail hurt me, physically, in a lot of ways. But I kept going. Now, all I have to do is ask myself,

"Am I actively dying right now?"

If the answer is no, then the thing that is bothering me loses all of its power, and I am no longer bothered. Next I ask myself,

"Can I do something to stop this thing that is bothering me?"

If the answer is yes, then I will do my best do play my part in making my life slightly less frustrating. For example, if a friend is chewing with their mouth wide open, then I have the choice to politely ask them to knock it the heck off. If I'm in a store that's playing obnoxious music, I have the choice to remove myself from the situation. But if the answer is no, and I can't play any role in changing my current lot in life, then I can choose to allow that thing to just... have no power over me. I cannot change the fact that it's going to be negative 30 windchill tonight. But I can be happy that I am alive, safe and warm.

You probably think that I'm lying, you probably think that I get annoyed standing in line just like everyone else. That's true, the thought crosses my mind to be frustrated. But then I make the choice to let it go. Because living in the woods taught me what's really important, and what's really important is living happily. 

This is my life, and I have no one to blame but myself for how I choose to be impacted by what's around me.

Clever Girl


  1. I've been following your blog after reading of your wondrous adventure and this post is one of your best. Thank you for sharing with us your adventure, your story and most of all your wisdom!!

    1. Thank you Shawn!! And thank you for reading!