Know Your Pet

my pet peeve

my pet peeve

This morning I heard one of my favorite phrases: pet peeve.

As a visual person, someone regularly accused of having too much imagination (a topic for another post!), phrases like pet peeve conjure images from the ridiculous to the sublime. Feeding a peeve so it grows healthy and strong, protecting it from traffic and other peeve-hazards, is a field of imagery ripe for the picking. Had I been thinking, Tripper-Dog-Dog-Dog might gone through life as my pet Peeve.

In order to have a pet peeve there must exist multiple standard peeves, the everyday garden variety of common peeves. For instance, I spill coffee on my shirt every single day. Because I try not to spill my coffee I always do. It is a rule of the universe that attempting to NOT do something guarantees the doing of it. Try NOT hitting your thumb with the hammer or not dripping paint on your good pants (I now own exclusively no-good pants so dripping paint is no longer a peeve). Cyclists assure me that focusing on the pot hole to avoid the pot hole guarantees hitting the pot hole. This rule-of-the-universe is, for me, a common peeve.

Pet peeve status is usually granted to seemingly small things. I just asked Kerri about her pet peeve and she said, without hesitation, hair-on-soap. I suspect she means finding a single hair on the bar of soap but hair-on-soap is open to multiple peeve possibilities, for instance, soap toupees. Soap with goatees. I’ll get clarification when she’s not busy.

I love pet peeves because they are generally harmless but also generally revealing about how people think/operate (and, therefore, what they see). Richard Bach famously wrote, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.” I’ve yet to meet a human (myself included) that is not in one way or another arguing for their limitations. Recently, at a party, I talked with a woman who told me exactly what she needed to change in her life to be happy. “Why don’t you do it?” I asked. “Oh, I couldn’t!” she exclaimed. “I’m afraid to do it,” she admitted.

Another way of stating my common peeve rule-of-the-universe: where you place your focus grows. The obvious question, approximating my wear-only-no-good-pants solution to spilling, is this: If fear  or doubt rules the day, why not focus on something else? Or, perhaps, imagine doing what you want, walking toward what you want, focusing intently on what you want to create instead of the opposite? AHHH!!! A COMMON PEEVE! A COMMON PEEVE!



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