Good pickles are hard to find. Too often they are soft or too spongy or bland or too vinegary or too sour. Finally, a jewish friend of mine in the Bronx has given me a recipe which gets me the crisp, half-sour, spicy pickles I like with my bologna sandwich.
On the way to making the pickles I now enjoy every day, I had some bumps in the road on the morning of the big pickle-bottling festival in my kitchen. The bottles were too small for the recipe, so I found myself annoyed at them. The pickles I bought at the Korean grocery (they were by far the cheapest!) spilled out through the cheap grocery bag all over the kitchen floor. I was annoyed at them and at the bag, and at the checkout clerk and at Korea. The spice mix did not include hot peppers so I had to make a special trip to buy them from the local Thai grocery store which was closed on the first try. I was annoyed at the Thai grocer, but happily, not at Thailand (being annoyed at Thai people is impossible.) Then I had a question for my friend and he was not picking up his phone the very second I wanted to reach him. I was annoyed at him and at AT&T and at Israel.
Later, as I looked at my finished pickles after two weeks in the cold basement, I recalled the day I made them – a rosary of annoyances. And I wondered if the pickles, the jars, the floor, the peppers and the friend were really the problem here. Perhaps the problem is that I have a predisposition to being annoyed when I don’t get things exactly my way. Perhaps noticing this predisposition and what hooks it into a flare-up of full-on annoyance is the way to deal with life – so that the grooves of my annoyance become cut less deep in the LP record of my life (remember vinyl records!? ..if you do not …that is annoying!) And perhaps I could change my way of being in the world, rather than trying to make the world perfect for my enjoyment.
And perhaps my own attention to my predisposition to annoyances could be so reduced by a centered, aware, awake, well-rested, un-caffienated, simple life that my new relationship with the world will bring the peace I keep hoping other people will make happen. And perhaps, just perhaps, I am not alone in this.