Sunday, June 18, 2006

It's All Small Stuff

Living in community is not for wimps. it's the day-in-day-out annoyances that rub so raw... not the big stuff. The big stuff is easier, it compels our compassion, forgiveness. The small stuff just wears me down.

I've been told that men in community are not catty like women. (Their issues revolve around testosterone.) But women are catty. I am catty. One sister talks to the air. She chatters incessantly to herself and anyone else in close proximity. "Are you talking to me, sister?" I ask (translate: won't you just shut up! I have no interest in what you're rambling on about! I can't think when you're running your own to-do list out loud...) Why does that bother me so? I also talk to myself; it's not an isolated disease. One reason: I can't selectively focus anymore. Ambient noise distracts me. That includes music with lyrics or a strong beat, two or more people chatting while I'm trying to think. I need quiet when I'm cooking, driving, writing. I need it... and when I can't have it I'm irritated.

Another sister is often in high drama mode, even when she isn't. Insecure about her own self worth, she needs to be the center of attention. Her presence can be draining. Another wants to pontificate about how the religious life should be lived, giving all kinds of illustrations and examples from her own experience, as if only she has the key to understanding. She has no clue how condescending she can come off. I don't believe she means it that way.

God only knows how many obnoxious things I do to annoy them... but I can probably think of some: rattling on about someone's comment on my blog, talking in the voice of a three year old, insisting that the cutting boards be stacked a certain way. I'm quick to criticize and can be sharp and sarcastic. (Besides falling into the catty trap... again and again.)

I have a theory. If you're the least bit neurotic when you enter, you'll be more so the longer you stay. We live too close together: 24/7 in each other's faces. It's a double edged sword. The bad news is we're often irritated with each other. The good news is we get to face our issues over and over, until we decide to work them out. It's not for wimps.

The other good news (that we maybe don't articulate to each other often enough,) is that we also know we are not our annoying habits. We are so much more than that, such a complex blend of delightful and exasperating. Each sister has gifts, strengths, a unique personality. We give generously of our love and compassion when the chips are down. When the chips are up we can too easily focus on the small stuff.


ACey said...

This made for great reading. Of course as I read the litany of annoying traits I couldn't help recognizing myself. I'm afraid I pontificate about how life *should* be lived. And I don't just give examples from my life, I also analogize, sometimes more than once in the same verbal paragraph. Plus I persist on yammering on about the underlying Connecting Threads that bind us all.

I seriously do this *plus* speak three year old-ese. Maybe now that I've looked at it through your eyes and a completely different situation, I'll be able to dial-back at least a little bit.

A said...

What an excellent post on the real "nitty-gritty" of community life. Wow, not for wimps indeed, I guess.

cgssis said...

I had a dear friend that use to say, "You don't get better or worse as you get older. You just get more so." Whatever you were when you were young, you just get more so as you get older. The cheerful get more so; the morose get more so.... Seems to be true in the community too. It makes me worry about what I am becoming "more so".