Yesterday, a friend of mine put on a light gray dress she had never worn before, got into her car and, not too much longer after that, spilled hot coffee all over herself and the dress. I know this because while we were chatting on the phone last night she was trying to get out the spots that the spot remover had left behind, the last bit of her valiant effort to undo the damage. She apologized for being “obsessed” and said “I know there are much more important things to worry about.”
Of course there are more important things to worry about, but if we obsessed over the important things, we would all go mad. I could spend my days worrying about poverty, war and famine, but those giant woes would crush the life out of me. Sure it’s cowardly, but we’re not all allowed the grand obsessions like freeing enslaved people, saving the rain forest or curing cancer. We do what we can, when we can. There’s no shame in that. Instead, we focus on the wee obsessions, the minutia of life. Wee obsessions are manageable. If my friend can’t get the stains out of her dress, she can just move on to the next obsession. If she can restore the dress to a wearable status, she has a small victory.
After all, what’s a person with an obsessive personality but no “grand passion” obsession supposed to do? We must have our wee obsessions – and our small victories. I’ve trekked across multiple counties on shopping quests to find just the right thing or obtain multiples of the same items. The 3 matching area rugs (in two different sizes, no less) that now grace my living room and dining room represent a dozen trips to half a dozen Home Goods Stores over the course of several months. That’s my scaled down dose of “They said it couldn’t be done, so I did it” bravado. When Angry Birds releases a new game or a new level, I play all the games as quickly as possible, get three stars on every game as quickly as possible – then I mope until the next release. It’s just a wee obsession gone a teeny bit wild.
My new wee obsession is the dead bug collection in my basement. I know there are large house centipedes lurking down there. I know there are spiders. I’m not happy about either uninvited guest. I’m allergic to many chemicals so I will not spray. Then I noticed some sticky bug traps I’d bought years ago and never used. I gingerly tore open a box. Maybe I didn’t want to know what was really living in my basement. Too late, I’d already tossed several traps to the floor. The next morning I tiptoed down the stairs and found two giant centipedes stuck in the traps. The next morning several large spiders had joined them. More traps. More traps again. Now there are traps scattered everywhere. Every day or two, there are a few more bodies – all frozen in place and looking like they will dart at me any second – which scares the crap out of me, but I can’t stop looking at the traps. I tell myself I am desensitizing myself and working on my fear of things with more than 6 legs, but that’s not it. I know what it is… just the latest wee obsession.