When I told a friend recently that I was working on being more patient, more tolerant, more accepting and more forgiving -- with myself and the rest of the world -- he laughed.
OK, so anyone that knows me, even just a little bit, knows it's a laughing matter.
But really, I'm serious. I think about this, try to work on it, on a daily basis now. Maybe retirement, and no work pressure, allows me lots of time.
If it seems as if this is another soul-searching, bare-all, bear-with-me blog piece, you are correct. You can stop here if you want; I'm going on because I need to work this out for myself.
I had a couple of good tests recently, and I did not fail. Didn't exactly handle them as well as I could have -- should have -- but if you read on, you might understand.
One of my bosses, being asked for a reference, told someone that my page design/layout skills were not my "strong suit." He was correct, so I don't have to forgive him.
But admittedly, patience, tolerance and acceptance have not been among my "strong suits." It has cost me plenty over the years (personally and professionally), made some relationships difficult, and caused me many times to assess why it was this way.
I'm an intense person; always have been. Unfortunately, anger -- temper -- has been part of that package forever.
There are people that I didn't connect with all that much, or that -- honestly -- I didn't like, didn't approve of what they said or did. Getting along with those people has always been a huge test for me, and I've often not handled those situations well.
And again, honestly, it would be fine if I never saw or talked to them again. But if I did, I promise I'd be civil. Time has a way of healing feelings, at least that's what I believe now.
There are people, in job situations or in places I shouldn't have been, who told me point-blank to move on. But those people felt they were doing the right thing for their situation.
Sometimes, I think, their egos got in the way, or maybe they were just plain obnoxious.
So at times, I was bitter or resentful about them. But I've come to realize that holding grudges is just pointless. What's past is past. That's forgiveness.
I could blame them; perhaps I once did. But the person I blame is me. It's my mindset, my actions, that I could have changed, and I probably should have left some situations before I was forced out.
Now, about patience and tolerance. My wife and my kids, my close friends and the people I worked with know full-well how impatient and intolerant I can be.
I would say I'm improving, except ... my sports teams. I expect a lot from the Yankees, Cowboys, Mavericks, LSU (whatever sport) and the Dutch national soccer team, and I'm often not willing to wait or not very understanding.
People know how intense a fan I am -- always was, always will be -- but let's face it, these are games. It still matters to me, but I'm gaining perspective. And I'm writing this piece about the real world, not the sports world.
I've written this before -- I enjoy Facebook, but I do find that my political and social views are not in tune with a lot of my friends, and sometimes I get aggravated at what I consider name-calling and disrespectful posts. Yet, these are people I like -- even love and admire some of them -- from way back, and I respect them, respect their right to their views. I can turn off what I need.
This is how I see acceptance and tolerance.
On to my recent experiences: (1) a battle with my AT&T U-Verse remote control and (2) a travel-club sales presentation. I wasn't all that nice either time.
Making the call to the customer-service with U-Verse, I had to go through the process of identifying myself -- that takes a couple of minutes -- and then try to explain to a far-away person for whom English isn't a natural language. You've probably been there.
Result: I was impatient. If anyone should identify with people trying to speak English when it isn't natural to them, it should be me. This was my family many years ago.
Anyway, the problem got solved pretty quickly; I actually figured it out shortly after the customer-service call began. But I felt terrible for being curt with the service rep.
About the travel-club presentation: We were tempted by an offer of a "free" trip for a couple of days with some perks. So we agreed to go across town and listen to a 90-minute spiel.
When they tell you at the start it isn't a high-pressure sales pitch, you know it's going to be ... a high-pressure sales pitch.
The people were as nice as could be, the presentation was interesting ... and tempting.
Actually, the travel-club membership can be a heckuva deal ... if you can commit to paying $8,000 or $6,000 or whatever the bargaining price is. But you have to do it right now.
We don't travel that much, and we can't afford the membership and meet some other commitments we have (mostly to family). We tried nicely to tell our salesperson that, tried and tried to say no.
He just kept pushing and pushing and after about 15 minutes, when he kept saying "if in a dream world ..." -- he used that term a half dozen times -- and then I just stood up and said, "That's it, I've heard enough. It's time to go." Didn't yell or make a scene, just got impatient.
He was a little shocked and asked us to wait a second, then went over and got his supervisor, who introduced himself and began his sales pitch. Again, I cut him off, stood up and said, "No, I want to go."
They were apologetic, but I assured them I was not "mad," it was really about the money commitment. They then had us sign for our "reward," the free trip. We'll see how that works out; what strings are attached.
We left and I was upset -- not at them, but at myself for not handling it more easily. In retrospect, I should've just written out a note and handed it to them. The note would've said: "At what point will you take 'no' for an answer?"
Bea keeps telling me to forgive myself for how I felt and how I handled it.
So I'm trying. It's my new world. Thank you for indulging my self-analysis session.