Anais Nin in answer to the question “Why does one write?”

“… It is a world for others, an inheritance for others … in the end. When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others’. 

 Can we make a world tolerable to ourselves as we age? Do we have to struggle with ourselves at all times? Do I have to grapple with inner and outer to make things tolerable? Will that make ‘…a world tolerable for others’? Is it possible to be more tolerable towards myself? Can I come to a better inner view of myself, which by definition contains many worlds? So many, and so different to each other, yet somehow there are also similarities, even in their differences. So many shadings and shadows, unknown places where we don’t want to go.

 We know when matters are not tolerable to us. We feel unease, unhappiness and a sense of things not being fairly squared. We feel it in the workplace, in relationships, in the environment, in ourselves ..

 Are we willing to sustain the effort of becoming more of who we are as we age? Can we trust the process of becoming more tolerable towards ourselves? Do we know those parts of ourselves that are intolerable to us? We are quite quick to find aspects of people that are intolerable – but how much of this is our own shadow? We are quite adept in disguising ourselves to others, and thus, almost from habit, we become disguised to ourselves. This is intolerable in some way. Will I allow my vulnerabilities and my all too human foibles and follies to become visible to myself and thus to others, allowing them to see that I too am vulnerable, just as others are. Will that breach of the gap make ‘… a world tolerable to others’?

I want to know that when I face death that I have done my best in making my world tolerable to myself. I reckon to do this, I must bring those dark unknown aspects of myself that are strangers to me and thus fearful to me. I want to know my moral identity to some extent. There’s nothing to lose in this and maybe much to gain.

 I know that I have to take myself out of my comfort zone to bring all those disparate shadow parts of myself into some sort of unity so that I can truthfully say I know myself a little better. And if I know myself a little better, warts and all, foibles, follies, the whole catastrophe of myself, yet abide by truths (eg harm no one or thing), this then has value and may help towards making the world a little more tolerable to others.

I feel that if I can achieve this I may have added a grain of consciousness to the world.

Incidentally, I do NOT like the word ‘tolerate’ – I do not want to be ‘tolerated’. Or my race, religion or gender ‘tolerated’. It has a negative connotation.

Are you tolerable to yourself?

38 Comments on T – Tolerable

  1. So I sat down at the table at our Opera House tea and announced to my companions, “I traced my family tree and found out this morning that I am part Irish.” They said, in effect, “Okay….”

    My announcement was tolerable, I expect, and, really, why not be part Irish?

    I certainly was not disguising myself. I laid it right out there on the table. What had been disguised from me all these years is that my family never mentioned the Irish aspect of my heritage, from not so far back, from my second great grandparents.

    So, at 72, I unearthed a gene artifact that legitimizes me: This explains my lyrical writing style, why I feel compelled to always tell a story or sing a song, write a poem; why I must sit at the table in our local Irish pub beneath the portraits of the Irish poets and why there I feel such a camaraderie, such a high; why I could sit for hours on end and listen to Bono just talk. He makes music with his words.

    My family constantly told me not to daydream, imagining stories, rather to do something useful with my life. But, I balked, although I never believed I could be a professional writer and a storyteller until I reached an age where I told myself I’d better do it now, or never. And I really liked it. This is me, I thought. It must be.

    And, now, I am that much more tolerable to myself, for these are my inherited roots. This in turn frees me from self-consciousness, enabling me to focus more on others.

    • Thank you so much Samantha! It brings home the meesage of being one’s self even though it may take time.

  2. Hi Susan .. I’ve learnt from watching two uncles and my mother go through the process and sincerely hope I’ll be as brilliant as they were … quite extraordinary … my father’s brothers both adapted really well, and their sister’s husband was great … and my mother just put her trust in me and accepted that this was what life had thrown at her – she probably of the four had the worst deal .. but I did so admire her.

    Tolerate is negative isn’t it .. I sincerely hope people will want to be around me – but I also sincerely hope I keep my wits …

    Interesting how some accept we are getting old/ will get old, while others don’t want to know – and I think .. well that’s a little silly! Anyway such is life .. we need to make our lives easy for others, so they enjoy and can be around us … cheers Hilary

  3. Thought provoking. Thanks for posting. Our searching and understanding ourselves can indeed be a help to others, help people on their journey and help yourself…we are here together, tolerable, tolerating, acceptable, understanding those dark shadows of ourselves, and thus in others…

  4. I don’t really like the word “tolerable” either. It makes me think of things just being bearable, but not necessarily joyful. But then again, there’s such peace in the word as you’ve expostulated upon it–it speaks of a deep respect for both self and others. Beautiful post–and I love that Anais Nin quote!!!

    • Thanks for coming by Colleen. Tolerable is a reasonable word, tolerate not. But you have a good point – if you can ‘tolerate’ something maybe it is just bearable for the moment.

  5. Most of the time, I would say so. I still have days when I can’t stand myself, but nowhere near as many as when I was a teenager. So that must be progress. 🙂

    • Thanks for coming by MCV. Great that you love yourself …the whole of yourself and even the unknown parts? Just be tolerant towards yourself, which is different to tolerating yourself. Be more tolerable to yourself. Have more tolerance. Don’t tolerate the intolerable.

  6. hi,
    Two questions in your blog stick out and spur me to think. Am I tolerable to myself and do I know those intolerable parts of me. It is really something to think about.
    Thank you.

  7. I’d like to think I’m tolerant, but tolerable … it depends. If you ask those close to me, they’d say sometimes. I’m not very patient, and that makes being tolerable a bit difficult sometimes. 🙂 But I’m working on it, as you say, working to bring all those parts into a better unit.

    • ‘Tolerant’ – that’s a MUCH better word than ‘tolerate’ and has a different nuance altogether! Thank you for bringing this to my attention Silvia! Intolerable (to me) that I did not even Think of That word 🙂

  8. Your post is quite timely for me on a number of levels. Comfort zones and taking ourselves out of them is something I am writing about now for tomorrow’s post but I keep getting nagged by your last question–Am I tolerable to myself? Put that way, I suppose that I am not in some areas, but more than in others. Now that the question is posed in this manner, it will not leave so readily. Interesting to see what else it will bring up for me. Thank you Susan for yet another thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

  9. My “reflecting” and “quests” have all been about learning to tolerate ME… to be OK with me as who I am. I did not receive being tolerated by my family, so I HAVE to do it for me. However, I still see “tolerate” in a negative way…. “to put up with” rather than to accept. I think acceptance, for me, is what I’m headed for as I age.

    Thanks for your post Susan.

  10. A choice quote from you for me today: Are we willing to sustain the effort of becoming more of who we are as we age? Keeping the cushion on my writing chair warm for hours on end is an effort, but I can’t do otherwise. I agree with Anais Nin and add my own twist: Writing memoir creates “a world for others, an inheritance for others … in the end.”

    Congratulations on getting to the letter “T” in the blog challenge. I suspect the word choices very much reflect the personality and interests of you as writer. Great post, Susan!

  11. Susan, your post really made me think about your chosen word and its existence in my life. I find some of my habits and inclinations intolerable yet generally I am at ease and find myself quite tolerable. I will keep an eye out, especially as I age.

    • Thank you Stephanie … some of mine are intolerable to me too – I am conscious of them. I wonder about the ones I am unconscious of and others find intolerable. Hopefully in spite of them they find me tolerable 🙂

  12. Susan, I have always had the same issue with the word “tolerate.” It suggests something negative I need to overcome to accept.

  13. Age causes us to know ourselves better and “tolerable” becomes easier, but there will always be more shadows to explore since we would otherwise be perfect. I think it’s important to keep walking towards the light, and remember that the world belongs to all of us.

  14. experience is certainly assisting me in learning to find aspects of mySelf tolerable . these days when I find I am beset by shadows I can turn them around and look at them in the light – it does seem that it is the aging process that has helped me achieve this as if there is no need to be so precious while at the same time holding life to be so utterly precious. paradoxical !!!!!!
    thank you for your reflections Susan

    • Thank you Sandra – turning shadowy matters around and around brings some welcome light. Your paradox is exactly right – the balance is there!

  15. I think with age we become more experienced and some can become more relaxed and happy to accept others for what they are. Others become more set in their ways as they age and become more closed to new discoveries.

    • Thank you Rosie. Aging does help in giving us a broader perspective and we accept others easier – hopefully we extend that acceptance to ourselves too.

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