Do we become more or less tolerant as we get older?

kk 010 Come back to me, blue house, come back beach

The answer is both. We are both more and less tolerant. At least I am.

What I cannot tolerate any more because it bores me and annoys me more than I can bear.

Oddly—intolerant remarks. When people make comments that are clearly racist or homophobic or misogynist, I can’t bear it any more. I want to get up and leave. I want to spill out the doorway and be gone. I don’t want to behave badly, but I also don’t want to be there, I don’t want to hear it. It is not that I feel small, I simply feel that there is no place for that conversation in my world and I want it gone. Away from me.

Small talk. I used to be better at it, but now I’m not. I struggle at parties with small conversations that feel meaningless and like they are tripping over themselves and not going anywhere. As if we are throwing back and forth a ball but we don’t really care if we catch it. It could fall on the ground; it could wobble, it could be left in the sand like nothing and it wouldn’t change the face of the universe.

What I tolerate more easily. People who are different than I am. People who spend more money on their clothes than I make in a month or a year. It’s okay. People who insist you should drink the same coffee they do, eat the same food they do, be vegan like them, etc, I just let all that slide, so many stories, so many people’s lives, it’s all okay.

When I am in a small town, I can like the small town, when I am in NY and they feel all superior about being in NY, walking around their tiny island, I can feel like, that’s good. When I went to the MOMA exhibit with Marina and saw the naked people, it was good. When I went to the hospital and they took my blood, it was good. When the girl told me she plans to chop it all off and become a boy, it was good.

We become both more or less like god who tolerates us. I feel the clouds resting on my shoulders as I get older. And I have room.

For men who talk all the time about how wonderful they are, I do not have the time or the strength to bear it. I once did, but now, I don’t have it any more. I can’t bear that un-throttled out pouring of I, I, I. Much of it is simply unfettered.

I suppose women do it too, but I’ve had it a lot from men. Men are given to expect that women will listen attentively, they’ve been waiting for it. A girl, a woman, a female, to sit down and say, “Tell me about it.” And that female, like an open vessel is waiting for the male to pour in words, to pour in aggression, ideas, passion. To pour in.

For this, I am less tolerant. It tires me too much.

I want to learn to be quiet and have access to my imagination, and I think tolerance is wrapped and un-wrapped in how we see ourselves and access imagination. Can you bear it? Can you? Bear? It? Should you?

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Published in: on April 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love that you posted this :). I feel the same way. I’m less tolerant of people who don’t value my time, as in acquaintances, employers, etc. I want to give, produce, and improve something; make a difference. And I am more tolerable about everyone’s preference to just about anything. As long as their’s value in interaction.

  2. I spelled there wrong :/…. party foul.

  3. I am a man, early 40s, same attitude, sick of hearing blah blah blah, and foul talk of others whilst smiling to their faces. This is yet another new learning wall for me, where i drop people who no longer suit me because of their backstabbing and nastiness. New found intellect i say


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