I have a lot of pet peeves—things that get under my skin and bug me to no end. I’d like to say they were noble annoyances, like indignation over bigots, polluters, or bullies. But, the truth is, I’m far more shallow than that.
What really bugs me are things like pickles. Especially pickle juice on my plate. I can’t tell you how much that bugs me. Put a pickle on the plate and it compromises the integrity of the whole dish, which is why I will spend ten minutes lying to the waiter about my life threatening allergy to pickles.
Of course, it’s not just pickles that bug me. I have plenty of other pet peeves, like gum-chompers, ice-chewers, double-dippers, movie-talkers, or anyone who clips their nails in public, or believes that driving on the freeway is a good time to apply makeup.
I also have pet peeves about people who make that sucking noise with a straw when the cup is almost empty, or anyone who takes up two parking spots or wears way too much perfume.
Yes, my friends…Buddha I am not.
And what happens in this pet-peeved infested world I live in?
Well, you can bet your last karmic dime that I am constantly getting pickles on my plate, toe nails in the eye, and caught in the elevator with the perfume spritzing lady from the department store. I am living proof that the things that bug us follow us around like a cosmic reminder that until we let go of the things that irritate us, we will never be free of them.
Now, I’m not suggesting it’s bad to not like something, or to be disgruntled and irritated by what goes on around us. It’s natural to be annoyed at texting drivers, or people who talk during movies, but it’s another thing entirely to let those people or situations take us out of our natural state of peace and contentment.
We can go ahead and teach our own kids to be better drivers, but we can’t do much to stop the guy three lanes over from putting his phone down. We can ask the loud talker to quiet down during the movie, but if they don’t want to, there’s nothing we can do about it.
It’s one thing to have preferences, but another thing entirely to have an attitude about them. I’d define an attitude as an opinion turned into a hardened thought that keeps us in a state of irritation and imbalance. This, in turn, attracts even more of what we don’t like into our life, thus keeping us locked in the same room.
The other problem with pet peeves is that they feed off of each other. One pet peeve may be fine. Or even a couple. But, like a virus, if left untouched, they can grow and multiply until they eventually take over our entire personality, becoming a reflection of the way we look at life. You start with one, add another, and before you know it, you have become that curmudgeon with the blinds drawn.
To be a real spiritual warrior you don’t need to walk through a tunnel of white light, you need to walk through a long corridor of perfume, loud cell phone users and gum-chompers.
This is where the real spiritual battle is fought.
Rooms 276-280: Drop The Pet Peeves
This week’s room begins with a strong dose of honesty and a good supply of bug spray. It’s time to fess up to all the things that bug us and get rid of them once and for all. Or at least the ones that hurt.
And don’t worry if your pet peeves are petty or laughable. My wife doesn’t like animals dressed up in human clothes, which I consider very odd. Of course, I’m glad she has it, seeing as it’s her only pet peeve that doesn’t involve me.
So, buy yourself a notebook and start making your list.
I’m sure you could do ten right off the top of your head. But, don’t stop there. Keep track of your whole week. Are you bugged when someone puts you on hold? Doesn’t say thank you? Uses too many napkins?
Keep at it for awhile and you’ll start to realize just how many things really bug you. I almost need a second notebook.
Now, once you have your pet peeves, you’ll realize that some of them are indeed preferences. No harm. You’re not trying to deny your opinion on a subject, just your attitude. Your trying to bring neutrality to your thoughts, so that which you encounter in your day is neither good or bad. It just is.
The purpose of this week is to look at our pet peeves head-on. We aim to feel the same peace and acceptance in any situation, no matter how much our mind might want to protest.
We’re also not trying to change another human being, or to get someone to stop a certain behavior. We’re just learning to not react, and to give others the same space we’d like to be given ourselves. After all, we might be someone else’s pet peeve as much as they may be ours.
Besides, being bugged by someone who doesn’t say thank you does nothing to make you feel better. If you really want to feel better, say thank you more often. Use your pet peeves as a place where you can begin to grow, as a starting point to bring more peace into your life.
Finally, don’t become attached to your pet peeves.
Sometimes I think our pet peeves become like toxic friends. We know they’re not good for us, but we still can’t get rid of them. We’re used to them.
It’s like that piece of popcorn kernel stuck in the back of your teeth, the one you’re trying to dislodge with only your tongue. You know it shouldn’t be there. It’s messing with your gums.
But, boy does it take a lot of work to get it out. Without a good business card to help, it can sometimes take hours. And it drives you nuts in the process.
And what happens once you do get the sucker unlodged?
Almost immediately you miss it.
Go ahead and admit it. You miss it. A little?
Okay, maybe it’s just me who misses it.
In any case, our pet peeves are much the same way. Our mind gets so used to obsessing over tiny little things that when they’re gone, it goes and looks for another piece of popcorn to fill the void.
There is a part of us that feeds off the annoyance. That wants to be bugged.
We need to train ourselves to get rid of this toxic need, and to let go of our pet peeves once and for all. It’s time to recognize these small moments when our harmless opinions turn into hardened attitudes that keep us from finding peace.
We need to greet our pet peeves with acceptance and balance.
It’s time to let it all be.
A peaceful universe is waiting for us.
All it takes is a little pickle juice.
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