The anatomy of annoying
Pema Chodron’s story has stuck with me for a decade: At a meditation retreat, the guy sitting near her kept making an annoying clicking sound. Again and again, she was jolted from her practice because he kept clicking his tongue.
During the break, as she gathered up her courage to tell him that he was ruining the day for her and for everyone else, she realized that in fact, it was a nearby radiator that was causing the clicking.
Suddenly, the fact that it was an inanimate object changed everything for her.
It wasn’t about her any longer.
It wasn’t intentional or selfish.
It was simply a radiator.
The rest of the day was fine, because it was simply a radiator.
My biggest takeaway is that the key leap wasn’t in discovering that the sounds came from a radiator. The lesson is that acting like it comes from a radiator completely solves the problem.
Sometimes (often, usually), it’s not about us. It’s simply weather.