Annoyed or Blessed, You Choose

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So, I was watching Good Will Hunting with my wife the other night…

And, there was a part where Robin Williams’ character, a worn-out, sharp-witted, yet deeply intuitive and loving therapist named Sean, is counseling the brilliant, yet emotionally withdrawn Will Hunting. Sean’s wife, we learned, passed two years earlier after an extended bout with cancer.

The following exchange ensues…

Sean: My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful little idiosyncrasies. She used to fart in her sleep. I thought I’d share that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and went ‘ah was that you?’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Oh!

Will: She woke herself up? [both characters begin to laugh uncontrollably]

Sean: Ahhh…! But Will, she’s been dead for 2 years, and that’s the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. Those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that’s what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections, but they’re not. Ah, that’s the good stuff.

I watched that scene with my head lying on my wife’s lap as she played with my hair (what’s left of it). A scene that’s been repeated upon an ebb and flow of tattered couches along a winding road of apartments over the last 17 years.

And, as I lay there, I realized just how true Williams’ line was,

“People call these things imperfections, but they’re not. Ah, that’s the good stuff…”

Thing is…

Most of us don’t realize that rather than stowing away the foibles, eccentricities and quirks of those closest to us as mounting ammunition for a fight yet to come, we have the choice to embrace them, instead, as signposts of how fortunate we are.

In my home, I’m outnumbered two to one…

Every doorknob is adorned, on some level, with growing collection of hairbands, scrunchies, hair-ties, ties-backs, twirly-things, clips, twists and more. It’s a habit of convenience, I think. You never have to go far to find just the right hair-management machinery.

For years, this used to bug me, like the toothpaste cap from sitcoms. I’d get so annoyed, “what’s so difficult about taking the extra two second to put these things in a drawer somewhere?!” I remember a moment, filled with pink and lavender striped hairband rage, I just couldn’t take it any more.

Something had to be done!

Nothing less than my manliness, my sense of respect and order was at stake.

Which is why I found it so odd to be laughing at my own lunacy just seconds later. Because, what had to be done…was for me to stop being such a rigid ass. To take a deep breath and choose to look at this heinous adverse possession of doorknob real-estate in another light.

All around me on every door was a reminder. Tangible, visible proof that I was not alone…

That I was loved. That I had two beautiful women, my wife and daughter, to come home to every day, to play with in the mornings and to lie with, half asleep, drifting in and out of consciousness as we all watched TV together on the couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Instead of seeing this simple idiosyncrasy as some form of disrespect, laziness, insult or injury, in that moment, and with every glance at a fabric laden doorknob since…

I saw only proof that I was blessed.

And, though my daughter’s only 7 now, I already dread the day I return home from that long car-ride back from her first day at college…only to find the doorknobs woefully unadorned.

Robin Williams’ character was so right, “People call these things imperfections, but they’re not. Ah, that’s the good stuff…”

If only we’d awaken to the notion that, at any given moment, we can choose to view them as such…

Now…go watch the movie. You won’t be sorry.

So, what do you think?

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43 responses

43 responses to “Annoyed or Blessed, You Choose”


  2. Hiro Boga says:

    Jonathan, this made me laugh, and brought tears of recognition and remembrance. Bless you for recognizing the gifts on the doorknobs of your home for what they are, and for articulating it so beautifully here in this post.

    My sons are both grown now, and haven’t lived with me for many years. When my youngest left home, I grieved for longer than I thought was possible.

    He’s been at home with me for the past two weeks, taking care of me after a hip replacement surgery. He works, so I don’t see him all that much, but the blessing of his presence makes my heart smile and lift into a wider horizon. It’s a gift of grace, finding his curly hair in my bathroom sink, hearing his stomp on the stairs.

    Tomorrow he returns to his own home. But he leaves me with a reminder that I’m loved, and cherished, and so blessed to have him in my life.

    Thanks for this tender reminder of what’s real.

  3. Ed Gaile says:

    Isn’t it is amazing how much we miss these little “annoyances” when they are gone. Life is too short – that is a great reminder Johnathan to truly appreciate those in your life!

  4. Tim Brownson says:

    Man you beat me to it!

    I have been thinking of this for somewhile. She’d kill me for sharing this but seeing as she never reads here, I’ll risk it.

    My wife snores at this time of year with her allergies. There’s been times when I head for another room muttering under my breath at 3 in the morning.

    The fact is though there’ll come a time when I’d pay a lot of money to hear her snores, but won’t be able to. Either I’m ill or she is or heaven forbid she’s no longer with me. Then I’ll think what a miserable ###### I was.

  5. Angie Cox says:

    Thanks for such a great reminder. I’ll be sure to share it with my hunk who has to live with five of us females (dog and cat not included). Doorknob adornment is the least of his concerns in our environment.

    Anytime I get annoyed with those idioc–whatevers, I remind myself how hard I had to chase to catch him, how much I missed him when we were apart, and how imperfect and annoying I can be every minute of the day. It puts everything into perspective.

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  7. Deborah Radloff says:

    Absolutely beautiful Jonathan!

  8. It gives me a completely new perspective on what rings the toilet in my house of boys 🙂

    I needed this post today! Thanks!

  9. Enrique S says:

    After fighting it for years, I’ve also embraced my family’s little quirks. My wife never tightens the cap on the toothpaste. My oldest is a packrat. My mother-in-law always forces fattening food on people. My brother-in-law is always a half hour late. But these are part of what makes them unique, and I’ve learned to accept them as they are. Nice post.

  10. This post made me cry. That’s a good thing.

  11. Joe says:

    Great post! It remind me so much of my own life with kids.

    I have three sons who are all into superheroes in a major way. They are constantly, and I mean constantly, pretending to beat me up like the Hulk, or slash me with claws like Wolverine, or hit me with some other weapon in their superhero arsenal.

    I’ll admmit that after a while, this got really annoying. Then one day I realized that this was just their way of telling me they love me, that they want to be with me, and spend time with me.

    So now, when they come at me as Wolverine, I become Magneto and start throwing pillows at them like the pillows are cars. We have a blast and now I am showing them how much I love them too.

    I realize that one day they might grow out of this, so I will soak it up all I can right now.

  12. Jarkko Laine says:

    Beautiful. I love the movie, but I love the way you shared the thought on this blog even more.

    @Hiro Boga’s comment made me think of my own parents. I have my own family these days, and I live a three and a half hour drive away from my parents, so we don’t meet too often (once in a month or two). My youngest brother is still living with mom and dad, and he has curly hair 😉

    Being the last of four sons, I’m sure the moment he leaves home will be a hard one for my parents. And it will happen soon – Tiitus is 19.

    But it’s good to remember that even when we don’t see each other, the bond between parent and child remains. And no matter what the distance, with family, you know there is someone out there who cares about you.

  13. I am less than 3 1/2 years away from no more wet towels, no more underwear, no more milk cartons and i totally embrace it all… great post, wise man, who is so loved!

  14. Fergus says:

    It is too true. I definitely see it from the son-parent point of view though. My list of aggravations with my folks growing up was long, convoluted and irrational. It wasn’t until I was in my own place in my 20s that I noticed the “lack” of reminders that I was loved and not alone.

  15. Matt Keegan says:

    What a good reminder to each of us to enjoy the people we love while we have them.

    I, too, know that a day is coming when our children will be grown, sprouting wings and far away from the family who will always love them.

    Don’t let this moment pass!

  16. Teri Pittman says:

    My husband of 37 years died in October. Those little things, those imperfections, are the things that will trigger grief the most. We can plan for how to deal with things like Christmas, after losing a loved one. But how do you deal with something like the feeling of picking up his hairbrush? You really do need to cherish those little moments while you have them.

  17. Awesome post. We too often forget about the little things. I too am outnumbered 3 to 1 and the volume of hair stuff drives me crazy at times. And don’t forget about solid pink, well, EVERYTHING. Anything sparkly, and lots and lots of stuffed animals.

    My youngest turns 5 tomorrow and I wouldn’t have it any other way than to have my two daughters. Jonathan, thanks for reminding me.

  18. Amanda S. says:

    Beautifully said! My relationship is still young and I love the quirks of my significant other. Reading this proves that it never has to go away. Thanks for putting it into words!

  19. Rudolf Orsag says:

    Points up Jonathan! I read many posts on personal development and lots of them are great but not so many of them are so wonderfully touching on deep human level. You gotta love that movie, fantastic stuff. 🙂

  20. Kim says:

    Your post is truly inspiring.The thing is we live in an imperfect world and don’t have the choice but to accept imperfections.

  21. Kelly says:


    You can always get me reaching for a tissue early in the morning! A great reminder to treasure my daughter (and to thank goodness neither of us is into hairbands anymore, ho ho).

    Thanks for reaching into your heart and finding a little something that’s also in mine.



  22. EXCELLENT post!! It’s all how you look at and react to things.

    Seriously awesome post Jonathan.


  23. Great post! Very inspiring. So true.
    The real freedom is in one’s point of view.

  24. kristin says:

    I love this! Thank you Jonathan for an inspiring and upbeat story when we are constantly bombarded with the opposite at every turn. In tough times we all need some more of the happy stuff.

  25. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ everyone – thanks for all the wonderful comments and sharing on this post. Funny, I just re-read it and was struck by how I still fall into certain patterns with people I’ve known forever, not based on how they are behaving that moment, but on how they’ve behaved in the past.

    Creates a bit of a vicious circle. And, I’m sensing the same “choice” principle applies there, too. Though, the longer the pattern exists, the harder it is to break the pattern and choose a different reaction

  26. and that familiarity of the quirks extends to other members of one’s family. I remember being embarrassed when my father would walk up to my mother as she was stirring something on the stove, touch her bottom lightly and kiss her neck…. as a kid that seemed way to familiar yet growing up, of course it seemed something many women yearn for.
    And I had to wear homemade clothes to a school of upscale kids yet they were elegantly-design in a European style – one that looked odd (in a bad way) to the other kids. Now, I am so grateful that I have two of those dresses for my god daughter who feels so sophisticated in them… even wore them to school.

  27. I concur with you wholeheartedly. This was a beautiful and powerful article.

    My mother was very gregarious, forthright and opinionated. She was never without an opinion, even when it wasn’t sought. When she was near death with a breathing tube in her throat, I so longed to hear her voice, to her talk, to hear her telling me how my hair would be more becoming if. . .

    When I think back to the years when my four kids were adorning our house, walls and floors with all manner of things, the things that annoyed me then are the most precious memories now. As a matter of fact, many of those are making their way into a book I’m currently writing on happiness.

    The lesson here is to do what you did. We must loosen up and enjoy the offbeat, quirky idiosyncracies of our loved ones, just as they put up with ours. We are blessed to have them in our lives for what will later seem like such a brief time.

  28. Ann says:

    what a blessing that you recognize what you have while you have it! Too few of us do.

  29. David says:

    We’re getting ready right now to go visit my aunt who is is hospice care with Alzheimer’s. It’s hard now to remember the last time we all went out to eat with her before she got so sick. We just never know when the last time we’ll eat with, talk with,play with,or work with our loved ones. Moments are so fleeting.

  30. Miles says:

    Beautiful posting, beautiful comments! I’m the guy in a house with one wife, one grown daughter and one dog.

    Our daughter is just a joy to be with, so much better behaved than I was at that age! We missed her when she went away to university, and no doubt will miss her again someday when a young man sweeps her off her feet.

    Tomorrow is our 25th wedding anniversary, and I’m really lucky to have met and married my lovely wife. Life is good.

  31. flicka 47 says:

    I came here because Pistashio over at twitter tweeted your blog. Thank you for this wonderful post.Everybody I’ve read this week has been whiney…I was beginning to wonder if I was the only happy person left in the world!

    It is so nice to see people who enjoy the people around them for who they are.

    Thanks again

  32. starrlife says:

    Love this post- perfection! I’ve been struggling with just this issue and it was good to read another way of looking at it!

  33. Nail on the head Jonathan. Nail on the head.

    Such a great movie with all kinds of ideas that wake you up –

    It’s only by deliberately stepping out of those automatic (and easy) patterns of annoyance and ingratitude that you can jump in with both feet and really see what all those little things mean.

  34. I absolutely love this post, Jonathan. We choose whether to see the blasted disruption in our lives or the delightful evidence of love, until the day we are suddenly alone. I was 34 and not yet as wise as you when it happened to me. It’s amazing how fiercely you can miss what annoyed you to tears a few days earlier.

    Will you write a guest post on my Assume Love blog about this? I would be so honored.

  35. Jonathan Fields;

    I’m still crying,…what a beautiful personal story. It touched me to my core!
    I think this article should be shared with the whole world,…because it’s a ‘Reality Check’ for most of us…..

    Thank you!

    Sandy Guerriere

  36. hdoug says:

    Nice. Really nice.

  37. Dee Wilcox says:

    Great post, Jonathan! My home is filled with two female labs and one husband – I’m sure he feels outnumbered, as well! We’ll celebrate our six year anniversary this summer and hope to have our first kiddo in the next year. Even so, our pups leave us reminders all the time of their presence, and we try to choose to see them as blessings. Unfortunately, a dog’s lifespan is never as long as we’d like, so we’ve chosen to photograph and otherwise capture these memories the best that we can. We’ll miss all of the little idiosyncrasies and puppy-isms later on.

  38. Wonderful post, Jonathan, and so true.

    Just one second to stop and get some perspective and the world suddenly seems a much better place. And they say familiarity breeds contempt…

  39. Bo says:

    Coincidentally, I read this post right after getting off a conference call announcing a new round of layoffs at my day job. I got teary eyed, not from the layoff annoucement, but from this blog. A couple of my co-workers got really worried about me, I think…

    It’s a blessing to be surrounded by people who remind you how easy it is to “get over it” and smile. We all forget though that this blessing exists all around us. Maybe it’s not a spouse, parents or children for some of us. But there are friends, colleagues, and neighbors with whom we can cultivate such connections.

    My new and old friends contantly remind me how lucky I am to be here to experience their annoying ticks. I am indeed!

  40. This post really inspires me to be contented and to cherish what I have now.

    When it comes to annoying act, my husband is on top of it. Lol. He does weirdly things that annoys me and then laugh out loud!! Ah, that really drives me crazy. Well, good thing I have drop by, now I know how to handle my irritating yet wonderful husband. And then I realize how he just wants to brighten up my day…through his nuisance. Lol

  41. […] Annoyed or Blessed, You Choose – So, I was watching Good Will Hunting with my wife the other night… And, there was a part where Robin Williams’ character, a worn-out, sharp-witted, yet deeply intuitive and loving therapist named Sean, is counseling the brilliant, yet emotionally withdrawn Will Hunting. Sean’s wife, we learned, passed two years earlier after … […]

  42. You choose your life. Your attitude changes your experiences dramatically.

    Living with an attitude & gratefulness is much superior (at least in my experience)

  43. Erika Robuck says:

    Beautiful, beautiful post. Brought tears to my eyes. I’ve got three boys, and I promise that tonight I’ll step over all the little hockey sticks, wet Spiderman bathing suits, and Webkinz with a smile.