How do we accept the unacceptable in life? Isn’t accepting life as-is a form of defeat? Does accepting today’s circumstances mean that we become passive, and that things will never ever change?
This is what I always believed, and this is why I have always pushed so hard to move forward. Until recently when I discovered that there is a way to accept today while moving on towards a different tomorrow.
Accepting life’s invitation
I have written about surrender before, but there has always been one part of surrender that has eluded me. It is the surrender and acceptance towards the things that are difficult, unacceptable and painful. Things that I would much rather change NOW, or at least tomorrow, and things that I do not want to accept because I fear that by acceptance I am inviting them to set up camp in my life forever.
You see, lately my life has been quite full. As you may know, few years back I accepted an invitation that was the path for me to follow, the path my soul wanted to travel, while at the same time also a path that brought with it a whole set of new challenges (because, #LIFE). In my attempts to find a new balance in life, a new equilibrium, there has been a voice in the back of my head saying “I cannot live like this.”
And I ask the voice, “What do you mean, my dear one?“
It felt like my soul was trying to tell me to slow down, to find space and to let go. But how? My earthly existence is currently filled with so many things to do.
There is a toddler to take care of, there is a full-time job to attend to, a new house to be lived in, a body to be kept healthy, a marriage to be cultivated and a soul to be nourished. The 24 hours I have doesn’t seem to be enough for all-the-things.
Moving past resentment to accepting the unacceptable
Many mornings as I walked to the bus stop it was with me. Resentment. Resentment towards the fact that life was the way it was, busy and full, however full it was of things that all individually brought me joy. Yet I felt resentful because every minute of life was scheduled, and I didn’t have enough time for any of it.
I don’t particularly enjoy the feeling of resentment, because it doesn’t lead anywhere. It is about resisting what is, which is madness in it self. But how could I accept the present moment when it sucked? How could I accept the life that I wanted to change?
I feared that by accepting it I would never change it. And I was determined to change things! So how could I possibly accept the very things that I didn’t want in my life?
Acceptance, enjoyment or excitement
Recently I re-read the brilliant book from Ekhart Tolle, A New Earth. Towards the the end of the book he writes how one of the three things should always be present in life; acceptance, excitement or joy. If you cannot feel excitement or joy, you should at least accept what life is demanding of you right now. At the very least we should have acceptance of the fact that things are the way they are – now.
Finally I saw the light, and I was beginning to accept the unacceptable.
I am the master of feeling guilty about everything (working too much, not working enough, not seeing my son enough, not wanting to be home all the time…), and it brought me so much pain. I would feel pain on a daily basis because I was never fully where I wanted to be, or I felt I should have been doing something different on the basis of some impossible yard-stick of working motherhood.
But I realised that the only way out of this pain is not to push further, but to accept that today life is the way it is, and I cannot fundamentally change things today or tomorrow. I will eventually change things around, I am on my way and I have a plan of action, but that will not actualise today or tomorrow.
I am accepting today as it is, because change does not always happen over night.
Here is the key: Accepting today as it is does not mean we forever surrender living life as it is today.
Accepting today does not mean we become passive and never strive for change.
Accepting life as it is today simply means that we accept life as it is, today.
Working towards a new future
I’m working on the next chapter of my life, and I’m going forward in my own pace. I’m still searching for freedom and autonomy when it comes to working, and I’m searching for a way of living that matches my values in life. My new, updated family values.
While I am working on my goals, I realise that it may take 6 months or 2 years, and it doesn’t help my cause to feel resentful from day to day. Resenting my life and fighting against the current will just tire me and burn me out. Instead, I need to accept the current, and keep steering my boat into a direction on the horizon that pleases my eye.
This acceptance has brought me peace. There is no more fighting against the as-is, no more feelings of hopelessness because “I’m still here doing the same-old.” No, I can find the silver lining because I know I’m moving forward.