“You know that I did not create Microsoft Office 2016, right?” said my spouse teasingly one evening recently.
Perhaps you can imagine how sourly I was behaving – towards anyone nearby – to elicit that comment. I was grumpy, and I knew it, and I was deliberately being quiet and nonconfrontational, lest I should inflict gratuitous harm on my loved ones. But alas, the silent treatment (and the scowl on my face) wasn’t exactly pleasant or loving.
And that teasing question (“You know…?”) was a perfectly timed reminder to pause and take a little perspective on why I was behaving so grumpily.
We on UUCC staff have been transitioning to some new information systems. A new email host is the most notable one, but in my case it has meant changes to other software, too. (I resist these sorts of changes and have been using the same software since acquiring this laptop in 2010.)
Everything looks different on my screen, and it feels like my brain is working overtime on things that should be minor, and I feel whiny and pitiful about it all. My entire workflow has been disrupted, and I am humbled by – and more than a little self-conscious about – how much this disruption has affected my sense of well-being. (At least my email address hasn’t changed! You’ll want to note that ‘Chon Cottman’s (our Office Assistant) address has changed – it’s now firstname.lastname@example.org.)
And so, of course, now I’m thinking about disruptions and chaos more broadly, and how much I depend on predictability and routine to bring me comfort. Snow days and sick children and software changes feel like huge nuisances that demand disproportionate energy. And yet, how fortunate I am to have the necessary resources to manage these nuisances so that they’re merely nuisances.
And I’m thinking, too, about how disruption is sometimes a powerful tool. Citizens use civil disobedience to disrupt and demand attention from those in power when needs aren’t being met. Dams disrupt the flow of water to harness its power and energy. The technician on the sound board has a lot of power when an orator knows that their microphone can be disconnected with the flip of a switch.
The nuisance of disruption isn’t always a bad thing. And I am lucky that most disruptions are merely a nuisance.
May I be ever mindful of the embarrassment of riches in this life.
And may you have only the most manageable nuisances in yours.