Does something that annoys you on one day not annoy you on another? Often it has to do with our being H.A.L.T.S. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Sick) But, sometimes it's something else. -💙rB
36 A rug in the trunk
Today, I was surprised when I saw a rug in the trunk of my 2018 Honda Odyssey minivan.
I had forgotten it was there.
Jane had me put it there so she could drop it off to get it cleaned.
Almost a month ago.
Sometimes when I encounter it there— like today—I’m pleasantly surprised, like bumping into a friend I didn’t expect to see.
But, other days, I’m annoyed, like bumping into a friend, but one I don’t like as much.
That my mood dictates how annoyed I get by the outer circumstances of my life is a lesson that I began learning back when the library charged late fees of $0.10 per day per book.
Back when Jane and I were newly married.
“Honey, would you like me to drop your books off at the library?”
I’m 28, living in Los Angeles and about to drive the cherry-red Buick Skylark we inherited from Jane’s grandmother to my assistant rabbi job a few miles away.
“No, thank you, sweetheart,” comes the reply.
I’m irked by what is now $1.80 in fines.
Today, I offer, again, to take the books back.
And, again, I am rebuffed.
I bite my tongue, reminding myself of the three distinct adjectives we chose in our vows to describe our love for one another: “absolute, unconditional, and eternal.”
I rationalize, “I love her, and the library is a worthy cause.”
Still the overdue fines, now $2.40, irk me.
It’s a few days later, and the books haven’t moved.
Surprisingly, today, a case of the giggles overtakes me.
I hear myself think, “She’s adorable. Perfectly competent to graduate from Brown University, to pass the social work licensing exam on the first try, and to memorize a credit card number in minutes. Brilliant at Scrabble. But, wholly incompetent in returning library books on time.”
I realize something.
Nothing has changed with the books.
(They haven’t moved.)
But this thing that had annoyed me yesterday and the day before is amusing me today.
My mood dictates how annoyed I get by the outer circumstances of my life!
It’s like with bad architecture or when my brother-in-law Bob calls.
Sometimes I see a ridiculous edifice and want to drive my car into it. And sometimes I see a horribly-designed building and think, laughingly, “What were they thinking?!”
Sometimes when Bob calls, and I see his face take over my phone’s screen, I think excitedly, “Oh, boy! Bob is calling. Great!”
And sometimes, I think, “Why is he bothering me?!”
Same reality, different reality.
The rug in the trunk?
Every day I see it there, I get a sense of my mood, depending on if the rug frustrates or amuses me.
I use the rug as a tool to let me know how I’m feeling.
And it doesn’t cost me $0.60 a day if it sits there.