"Oh you don’t have to like it...and you don’t have to accept it, but reality always, always wins." Me.
Like most people I know, I have struggled with the concept of acceptance. I have confused it with approval, with affirmation, with a lot of things actually.
But acceptance is really just a fancy word for surrender. If surrender is raising the white flag, acceptance is actually allowing them to take you prisoner when they encircle you...
How often I have raised the white flag, demonstrating to all around me that I am done, I can’t go on fighting and yet, as soon as the perceived enemy combatant begins their approach, I pick up my weapon and begin the battle again...so often in my life surrender has just been a new battle ground for acceptance.
Acceptance means that I really raise the flag and then I allow all the things to happen as a result of raising the flag of surrender. I don’t decide what what happens next should look like. I don’t decide how much pain it will be or what level of misery is attributable to my surrender. I similarly am not in charge of how much joy or growth I gain from each surrender. Acceptance means that I put down the flag and move forward allowing whatever happens next to be just as it is...with as little resistance as I can muster.
Acceptance happens only right now. I cannot accept something that hasn’t happened yet. I can only refuse to accept what is occurring right here and now. Acceptance requires that I give up any and all ideas that right now something else should be happening, I deserve something else than what I am getting or that there is some other reality that is more befitting of my current station in life.
Acceptance does not make hard terms. It is created by looking around and breathing in and out. And then doing the next thing that is in front of you. Acceptance feels so hard to access because it can only meet us where we never want to be, which is right here, right now. And for most people I know, right here, right now is the place that all of us are desperately trying to get away from.
So for me, acceptance is a commitment to remain with this moment right here. To allow it to be exactly as it is, laying away the subtle violence of the idea that this moment should be different, should feel different. Acceptance means just being right here, right now feeling how I feel, doing what I am doing and allowing the constant and insistent story my head creates to just float away...to really let go and get out of the way and to appreciate the reality that is fleeting to be as it is right this very moment.
I find it hard to write about acceptance because I have so much more experience with struggle, hardship, fighting. All evidencing my stubborn and life long refusal to accept much of anything. I have learned, however, that my best demonstration of acceptance is where the claw marks stop, and there is a gap before then next ones begin. No matter how large or small the space between my fingernail shredding tracks, any space between is and always will be evidence of acceptance however briefly it remained.
Today I accept that it is my nature to struggle. It is my path to peace. Any serenity I have ever received only came after a long, hard battle of hanging on, stubbornly refusing to let go...to accept that reality always wins, no matter what I tell myself to the contrary. I am learning, very slowly, that surrender provides me space to see something new, but acceptance is what gives me a new pathway to peace. I cannot march myself into this new life. I can only accept that the life that I am being presented with right now, the only true one. And that is still far too often a bitter tasting pill. But like all medicine, I can only be healed if I am willing.
Acceptance is an internal, quiet surrender of all I think I know, long enough for life to progress before I jump in and fuck it all up. I am not in charge, never have been, never going to be...reality is never joking, never just joshing me. Reality will create the terms for all of us, and we will suffer in our confusion that it can or will ever be otherwise. Acceptance happens only in the now, right here between the confusion of my ideas and the passions of my heart. I can get in there, all I have to do is exist between the breaths. Creating a new reality with each passing of my life force in and out of my chest. To accept is to breathe deeply in the here and now. That is all.