Making Annoyance Worth Our While

The email that annoyed me showed up right before bed.

They have a way of doing that.

And now, if I may, some choice words to describe said email: sloppy, brainless, the gentle touch of a freight train.

I lay under the covers, pissed.

The next morning, I got up, showered, washed yesterday’s smudges down the drain. But I kept a white-knuckled clutch on yesterday’s annoyance.

I was stuck and revving in righteousness, clear signs I wasn’t doing annoyance well.

Annoyance is energy. And energy is information. Doing annoyance well, I think, is the tricky, sticky work of discerning what that information is trying to tell us. Then acting from that insight, rather than from the seductive feeling of being wronged.

I walked to work. The sun rose over the harbor. The traffic thickened.

I sat at my desk. Quietly, I felt it: I was hurt. Below annoyance was the pain of feeling mistreated, like I wasn’t worth the time it took to be thoughtful.

Oh, I thought. This. It doesn’t feel great. But I knew that this was an honest feeling. An honest feeling I could do honest work with.

I opened up last night’s email. I wrote a response. It was truthful and vulnerable. It aimed towards kindness. It was not perfect.

But it felt like I’d squeezed something worthwhile out of annoyance. And I suppose that’s always possible, if we can stay with the energy of annoyance long enough to find the true feeling living on the underside of it.

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