This idea of acceptance has me wrapt. It is no small thing to accept the life I have: my past with all its pains, heartaches and mistakes; my present with all the worries and fears, risks and uncertainties of a career and home and family; my rapidly growing city with its few secure jobs, its competitive culture, its skyrocketing cost of living; my world with its wars, factions and appalling inequities; my time in history with the terrible burden on our natural systems, the daily extinction of life forms, traditions and languages, the isolation and disconnect that technology has brought on us.
And yet here it is and what choice do I have? Will I waste my days in regret and longing for something different?
The beloved poet Mary Oliver’s words rush to mind:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Well, I don’t plan to squander this life looking back, finding fault or focusing on deficits. Here I am, glad to be alive. Here I am saying yes to all of it, the whole beautiful mess.
Because there is more to see. There is also that beauty I can choose to notice every day. There is the dog’s wagging tail, always eager to share affection. There is the wild love I have for my children, so easy to tap into. There are colours, glorious colours! There is the birdsong and the dance of the clouds in the sky. There is the Internet and all the people taking time to offer information so freely with each other, often with no reward. There are the innovators working tirelessly to clean water, boost nutrition, grow food, preserve soil, and engage minds. There are the teachers, the peacekeepers, the emergency responders, the health care providers working day in and day out in the service of others. There are the labourers, waking early to plough the roads, fix the fallen electrical lines, build the new schools, repair the leaks and holes and deliver and package the supplies. There are the parents, weary from broken sleep, wiping noses and kisses boo boos hour after hour. And there are the activists and the rebels, the provocateurs, and the artists bringing us to attention, reminding us of what matters.
And so when I touch into acceptance I relax. My shoulders drop. I can see both dynamics at the same time. I can say yes to life. And I say it over and over.
It might look like this on a given day for any one of us:
And then the mind creeps in….
And the chorus of reason rises up with its
Even though I might want to lose weight.
Even though I want to gain weight.
Even though I need more exercise.
Even though I have this disease.
Even though I will fail this course.
Even though I feel scared.
Even though I have lost my job.
Even though I am using again.
Even though I am addicted.
Even though I am depressed.
Even though I feel anxious.
Even though I feel stuck.
Even though I am lonely.
Even though I did not get that job I wanted.
Even though I did not get that promotion I thought I deserved.
Even though I am not in touch with family members.
Even though I don’t know what to do.
Even though I am getting old.
Even though I miss my loved one who died.
Even though I have a serious diagnosis.
Even though I have a low income.
Even though I feel lost.
Even though the person I love is leaving me.
Even though the person I loved cheated on me.
Even though I did not deserve what happened to me.
Even though what happened to me was unjust.
Even though I have lost my connection with my children.
Even though I worry about paying my bills.
Even though my childhood was hard.
Even though others have hurt me badly.
Even though I have hurt others.
Even though I have hurt myself.
Even though I feel powerless.
Even though I thought I would have things figured out at this age.
Even though it hurts.