While camped out on the shores of Lake Michigan to write and relax, I became acutely aware of my environment. I wasn’t cradled by the sound of the waves crashing on the shoreline, or delighted about the warming sun on my body. I wasn’t basking in the pleasure of writing at the beach on a delightful spring day. I was triggered.
The art of tolerance escaped me. I was irritated with the chatty couple who decided to set up camp close to me, when they had miles of people-free shoreline. I became overstimulated by a barking dog in the distance; A gorgeous Golden Retriever having the time of her life playing fetch, hoping for one more swim to retrieve her tennis ball. My personal space was invaded. I judged the couple. I seethed about the barking dog and his clueless master. I found myself wondering, why me? Why couldn’t I simply go to the beach and be left to write in peace?
The cosmic joke of this experience is that no matter how much I love my personal space and privacy, I am not alone on this planet. The roads will always have traffic. Dogs bark. People do, what people do. Yet I often expect others to honor my personal space, be mindful of their actions and aware of their surroundings. The art of tolerance is a curriculum calling for my attention. I still have much to learn about cultivating patience. Can you relate?
In hindsight I see that I had several options that day. I could have picked up my things and moved away from the cozy couple and happy dog. I could have noticed the distractions and let them go. I could have put my ear buds in and listened to Florence and The Machine or a guided relaxation. And… How much space do I really need? What might happen if I re-framed the trigger of a barking dog to something that emotes fun and playfulness?
I choose to become less reactive and will practice letting things slide. One thing is certain, walking on the path of patience and learning the art of tolerance will take a lot of practice. Thankfully I have the tools I need to exhale, learn from experience, and move forward with loving kindness.
I will always prefer silence and natural sound. The crashing waves lull me to relax on the beach. The chatty couple and barking dog, not so much. No matter what kind of environment I prefer, the lifestyle I choose is one with community. Communities are not always quiet and relaxing. The real world is full of people, barking dogs, and blowing horns. Being alive is noisy. So noted.
I choose to be a student of the art of tolerance…
- What triggers you?
- How do you care for yourself when you are over-stimulated?
- What do you do when you observe yourself judging others?