“I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.” Khalil Gibran
I’ve had spiritual teachers along the way, but the best teachers and most lasting and life-changing lessons I’ve learned, have been from my experiences. I have not always liked the learning experience while going through it, but in hindsight I’ve learned to love and be grateful for each.
I’ve always been a talker and there is nothing wrong with that, when I really have something to say. There is a difference between talking incessantly because I’m uncomfortable, or I need to prove my point, or convince others how much I know. Sometimes I continue to talk to defend myself or to proselytize so I can get others to see the light and embrace my beliefs.
I’m still a talker but my life and habits have changed. Life has drawn me into a place of awareness and quiet within. Having to prove my point or defend my position has become an empty and futile exercise. Needing to look smart so I can cover up my feelings of inadequacy has lost its appeal. Thinking others need to believe what I believe now seems ludicrous. Making the choice to be present to all of my Self and my experiences has led me to a place of acceptance and compassion for myself. As I continue to grow in self-acceptance, caring what others think has lost its value.
I’ve learned toleration by being tolerated while hearing the words, “You’re a pain in the ass.” The other side of the coin was all of the times when I suffered outright rejection and was not afforded the gift of toleration.
This is what I know about toleration. It’s taken me a few years to understand the difference between it and acceptance.
Many times in my life I was tolerated, but I was not accepted for who I was. I believe acceptance means seeing others for who they are without wishing they were different. There is no hidden agenda in acceptance.
Toleration is being with someone who is not like me, without making them wrong, but inwardly wishing they were different. Toleration is necessary in a society where there are hundreds of thousands who are different. I appreciate the tolerant, however, acceptance is the next step and is a higher form of humanity.
I am told often, even by people I have never met in person, how kind I am. Like tolerance, I learned kindness from suffering the blows of unkindness. I believe we respond to lack of kindness from others in one of two ways. Either we set ourselves aside to heal the wounds of unkindness and therefore become kinder and gentler souls, or we stiffen our resolve and harden our heart and miss the opportunity to learn about compassion.
Like everything else in life, we are at choice. We can walk this earth awake and alive to possibility and to healing or we can protect our carefully constructed ego and miss our teachers.
I wish I could always remember to embrace silence, to practice tolerance and acceptance for everything and everybody, and to always come from a place of kindness and love. But, I am not there. Being human and fallible I forget who I am and I become reactive. But, I’m learning and I’m on the path to becoming. Goddess bless the people and experiences who were willing to be a part of my life lessons. Namaste.