The following was going to be a reply to Cym's recent post, but it got rather long and turned into a blog post, so here it is.
I am constantly running up against stuff that irritates me, stupidness, ignorance, all the minor complaints of a given day. Like, last week, I was installing a bathroom light, and to attach the lamp body to the wall plate, there was a screw coming from the back of the wall plate, through the lamp body; you put an acorn nut on the end to secure the lamp that way. Well, the screw was too long, so the nut would bottom out before it pressed against the lamp body. But the hole in the wall plate wasn't threaded, was too big for that girth of screw. So there was no way to back the screw out a bit, meaning the whole thing leans forward, and there's not a damn thing you can do. Yet the thing was a higher end light. WTF? You just throw your hands up at this kind of idiotic design. Someone gets paid a lot of money to make this stupid shit.
But, I've learned to live in the moment, or maybe always have. Some people will get home in the evening and call up their friends and go through their whole day, the good and the bad, but I find that hard to do, because most of it just slides right off my brain. Ask me how my day went, and you'll likely get monosyllables as a reply; the day tends to register more as a general feeling. Only the bigger stuff sticks (like that light, which required some creative thought, plus a weekend trip to a hardware store). Most of it just doesn't seem worth talking about, and I have to really stop to think about the specifics. The day sort of just vanishes for me.
The next step up is political stuff. I could bitch all day about a ton of different issues, I have opinions on most of it, but mostly don't feel like going to the effort, and mostly don't think about it until I am spurred to by reading or hearing something stupid. Maybe if I had a wider audience, and felt like it might have purpose, but mostly it's just crap you gotta live with. It doesn't add much to anything. Like the old joke, when someone asks how you are, and you say, "can't complain," and they say, laughing, "and no one would listen if you did, right?" I try not to waste my breath (or typing) on gripes, and as well try to not do so internally, in my own mind.
I think this puts me on the right track. Irritation is normal, I think, but to stew on it is unenlightened. Maybe if we could let things go quickly, we'd be happier. I know I've long internalized, such as I'm able as a fallible human being, the way Siddhartha in Herman Hesse's novel of the same name, could "wait." Patience was one of his skills, being an advanced meditator, and though I'm not one of those, I abide by the phrase of "it will pass." I may have a brief "outburst" (mentally at least), but like a summer storm, it doesn't last long. I'm not sure if this is an inborn trait or something I've learned, I suspect some of both.
Of course, if we all let things flow by in the stream of time, didn't hold onto our gripes, we'd probably have a hell of a lot less to talk about. After all, the easiest thing to talk about is the problem, the moment's bitch about this or that. I've long noticed that such griping is much of what people talk about at work, and often enough at home too. And of course, some problems do merit holding onto, things that demand justice and action. And as Jack Johnson sang in a favorite lyric of mine, "we are only what we hate." Interesting that we seem to be defined as much by what we find repellant as by what we like (of course, in a dualistic world, it goes both ways).
Controversy, angst, confusion, sadness, and irritation really do inspire words, whereas happiness, pleasure, and bliss do not. Baroness wrote in a comment that the most poignant poetry comes from doubt and disappointment, the best stories are of conflict and loss. You couldn't write a book about nirvana or heaven, but of hell? One need only look to Milton and Dante, right? Of course, there is also some amazing ecstatic poetry, but to be honest, there are far fewer poems that I've read that really move me to joy, compared to how many of the more somber ones have moved me to real feelings of sadness and pain. This is far less true for music, but, music being a category unto itself, and non-verbal, the point remains.
Maybe it's because words are divisions, and joy is more a feeling of connection. You don't really want to separate yourself from the moment to stand back and describe it, because you immediately lose the joy, right? In fact, in many ways, endlessly talking or writing about a problem or political issue or whatever, is a great way to avoid really dealing with it, really doing anything about it. It's easy to sit back and pop off about global warming, the 1%, political corruption, the hungry, the poor, the million different things a bleeding heart liberal like me can feel concerned about, but what it really achieves is a distancing, an objectivization, a rationalization... but not action.