Tolerance – it can be a tricky deal, writes author Shelly Hickman…
I’m choosing this topic because Sophie, the main character in Somewhere Between Black and White, has some serious tolerance issues with her brother-in-law, Christian.
We’re told that tolerance is a positive trait to possess, and I can’t argue with that. However, intolerance of something or someone is strongly tied to emotion, and anytime emotion is involved, rationality tends to take a backseat.
It seems the older I get, the less tolerant I’ve become. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. It just depends. Like, I don’t get too worked up when people do mindless things, such as block an aisle in the grocery store because they’re busy gawking at items on the shelf, or lingering at the traffic light five seconds after it’s turned green. I know I’m guilty of such things myself and hope that others would show me a little patience.
It’s the things that have to do with common decency, or lack of it, that get me riled. Like when you hold the door open for someone and they just walk right on through without a thank you. I try to tell myself maybe it’s not intentional; maybe the person is in a daze and not paying attention, but I still get somewhat peeved.
Now, when someone is flat out rude or mean, that’s when my tolerance goes out the window. I suppose those are the times we should try to show the most patience, for our own peace of mind, if nothing else. Yet I do struggle with this!
Like Sophie, I spend my days with middle schoolers. Talk about an age that tries to push your every last button, and right now I’ve got the zits to prove it! There has been many a day when I think to myself, “That’s it. I just can’t do this anymore.” But you know what? Every profession has its challenges. There are very few people who feel they have the perfect job, so just like everyone else, I try to make the best of it. Try to focus on the positives.
If you look at my author Facebook page, you will find lots of “positive thinking” type posts. In my book, Sophie says to Sam, “You’re one of those people on Facebook who’s always posting those philosophical, feel-good quotes, aren’t you?” Yep. That’s me. Not because I’m this highly evolved creature who’s got it all figured out, and it’s my job to tell everyone else what to do, but because those posts are reminders to myself to stay in the right frame of mind.
Believe me, I can very easily fall into the “bitchy, whiny” mode and stay there for a while. Just ask my husband after I’ve had a particularly trying day with my little darlings. However, I try very hard not to. For one thing, what good does it do? Yeah, we all need to vent sometimes, but when I get really stuck, when I’m convinced one of my young charge’s sole purpose in life is to send me to the psychiatric ward, I try to look upon it as an opportunity for self-improvement. It doesn’t always work, mind you, but it helps. I will never grow as a person if my boundaries aren’t pushed, if I’m not given opportunities to choose more productive ways of responding to situations that make me batty.
No, we can’t always control what happens to us in life, but I am a firm believer that the way we react to what happens can make or break us. And on those days when I just can’t find the will or maturity to take the high road and not let a twelve-year-old get my goat, a nice margarita will do me just fine.
When approaching life’s problems, Sophie sees in black and white. That is, when they’re someone else’s problems. So when it comes to her sister, Sophie is sure she has all the answers, and offers them without hesitation. If only her sister would listen. Then, through a series of chance encounters, she meets Sam, who is witty, kind, and downright unflappable. Sophie has the overwhelming sense that she’s known him before, and as a relationship builds between them, odd visions invade her mind. Though she tries to dismiss them, their persistence will not allow it. As someone who is quick to judge others, she is intrigued by Sam’s ability to accept people as they are. She begins to see him as a role model, but try as she may, his accepting nature is difficult to emulate. Will Sophie ever be able to put her hasty judgments aside and realize not every problem has a simple solution?
Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as an illustrator for a contractor for the Nevada Test Site. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer applications and multimedia at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Frankie.