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I was born at a very young age and...bud um boom...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Age and Patience With Others

I was, until recently, under the impression that as we aged we became more accepting of others' shortcomings but recently I've begun questioning this. I remember that as a young man I was much more accepting of friends who had major failings. Once, 40 years ago, as a young musician, I shared an apartment for an entire summer at the Jersey shore with a junkie musician who spent most of his time scamming people for money and drugs. But, he was funny, charming and bright and I enjoyed his company. Together we once spent 20 bucks (a lot of money back in 1960) for a bag of oregano and all we did for days was laugh about how it tasted as we tried to smoke it.
It seems I had more friends back then who were seriously flawed. Now, I'm a lot more particular about who I spend time with. I find myself assessing their interpersonal style and if they are poor listeners or are not at all curious about others I find it tedious to be in their company. I seem to be paying the price for my pickiness, however, and have far fewer friends now that I have dropped a number of friendships with folks who I finally decided were just too much work or were not making an effort to enrich our friendship.
I know that much more possibility for personal growth is offered by difficult people--i.e., they force one to stretch to get big enough to tolerate them gracefully--but as I age I opt more and more to just sacrifice the growth, smoke a cigar by myself and stare at the back yard or read a book. It just takes too much energy.

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