December 10th, 2015
#12DaysofGood – Tolerance
Merriam-Webster defines tolerance as “the capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure.”
What are you tolerant of?
I’ve stopped bristling when my husband delicately balances the fresh roll of toilet paper on top of the old one. It’s become charming to me. Almost.
My shoulders don’t tense up anymore when I hear somebody cracking their gum. I’ve learned how to tune that sound out.
Someone keeps putting Harlequin Romance novels in the Little Free Library that calls my boulevard home. Right in between Margaret Atwood and Wally Lamb. I’m working at getting okay with that.
I feel quite pleased with myself when I think of how tolerant I am.
Except for that nagging awareness that tolerance is directly tied to judgment. From how tidy my husband keeps the house, to how people chew their gum, to what constitutes “literature” – after judging each against my own set of standards, I’ve decided what’s acceptable. What’s okay. What I’m willing to tolerate. Suddenly, tolerance doesn’t seem so lovely.
But it gets worse.
What do people tolerate with me?
I swear. A lot.
My laugh is about two decibels higher than it should be and it is frequent.
I can be quick to anger and slow to heal.
But that isn’t tolerating me, is it? That’s just accepting the parts of me that are authentic to who I am. And that doesn’t seem generous of other people, it simply seems like how we should treat each other.
I expected to write a blog about how important it is that we learn the art of tolerance – that tolerance is what builds community and brings us together. I wonder now if tolerance isn’t the goal, but instead it’s working through our tolerance of others to arrive at a place of acceptance.
By Sally Sarachman