One possible moral of the story: annoying people may be just the ones who save your life. At least that was my conclusion at the end of The Way, directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen.
Sheen plays a doctor, Tom, whose son dies during a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. When Tom goes to collect the body, he decides on a whim to walk the route with his son’s ashes.
Along the way, he meets three annoying fellow pilgrims. One is overly friendly-annoying, one is mean-annoying, and one is just straight up, full-of-himself-annoying. They form a little community that Tom tries to avoid being part of. Then one day, they take care of him when he can’t take care of himself, and he begins to see and appreciate their good-heartedness.
I would like to remember more often to look at people’s hearts instead of their failings. I have developed my fault-finding capabilities well beyond a useful level.
Seeing others’ shortcomings is easy because we all have them. It takes a little more attention to focus on what’s wonderful about a person, to let their quirks roll by while recognizing their gifts, or to simply enjoy the whole person, the jumble of flaws, talents, and grace that we all are.
A caveat: I’m not talking about the people who suck the life out of you or make you feel constantly inadequate or afraid. Those people aren’t annoying; they’re toxic. If you want to work your way up to finding the good in toxic people, I recommend doing it long distance without any actual communication.
After his fellow pilgrims rescued Tom, they all picked up their bags and kept walking. Because we are all on the same road and like it or not, we are on it together.