Accepting the Unacceptable by Lori Nelson

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Acceptance. We preach it. We read about it. We pretend it. The thing is, sooner or later, we will all reach it. Acceptance. Even if it’s your last day on earth (you’ll be accepting then, won’t you?) the time will eventually come when there will be no other choice than to throw in the towel, wave the white flag—whatever your personal signal will be—finally resigned that the unacceptable can only be dealt with by making it acceptable.

Part of being a human being comes with the uncomfortableness of being a human being. What we don’t like or appreciate about others, we’ve got in ourselves. “If you spot it, you’ve got it,” sounds the chorus of chaotic addicts in meeting rooms everywhere. We wouldn’t recognize any flaws (or angelic attributes, for that matter) in others if we didn’t also have them within ourselves—to do, say, be, or act that way too. It wouldn’t bother us, unless, well, it bothers us. Acceptance.

Oddly, we willingly accept in others what we won’t accept in ourselves. Someone acts crazy; we laugh, we forgive. We act crazy; a shame spiral ensues. Another person falls; we feel bad for them. We fall; we feel guilty or angry. Someone else is a mess; poor them. We are a mess; apologize and make amends. Why the different standards? Where is the acceptance for us, for them, for all, for the past, the future, the forever …?

Part of us always knows that, in the end, acceptance will be the only option. Yet we fight until that end, thinking the fight will potentially change the outcome. It won’t. And how many times do we need to test this theory to learn the flow of only two things: Now. Next. That’s it. That’s all we’ve got. Now or, Next.

So where do we go from here?

Even as you’re reading this, you’re nodding inside. Yeah, that’s right. Thanks, Lori. I’ll need to remember that. But, being human, you won’t. You’ll still struggle. You’ll still flounder and flop and fight against instincts, other people, governments, traffic, mounting bills, unsatisfied yearnings, poor food choices, weather (weather! For goodness sake—as if you could do a thing about it!), your kids, your loved ones, your parents (that particular battle is universally acceptable), neighbors, and on and on and on. To be first is sometimes to be last—like the first person into an elevator will be the last to leave. And sometimes last is first. There is no fair. And there is no fairy tale to explain why life fails each of us along our own particular path.

When we plant a garden, we accept what grows and what dies. Only two tomatoes this year doesn’t mean next year won’t bring a bountiful harvest of twenty-two tomatoes. It should be the same way with all of life. We sow and we reap. We accept. It won’t always be predictable or perfect. Sometimes surprises astound us with joyful resonance; other times the unthinkable happens just as we recover from the last intolerable dilemma. Be a boat. Learn to go with the flow, coast the waves, rock unsteady, accept the gusts of perpetual winds that propel you into Now or Next. No sense to linger in looking back, because you are not going that way.

Yes, sooner or later, we all come to acceptance. Don’t let it leave you bitter. Be better. Don’t try. Do. Don’t should on yourself, or should on anyone else.

Simply accept. It’s easier that way, and yes, Scarlett, tomorrow is another day. There will be another chance to get it right. Or not. Either way … Next?

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