Sunday, February 13, 2011

:: acceptance ::

in fifth grade, at band practice, one of the oboe players threw up. me being a flute player, and one of the ones sitting in the front row, i was terribly nearby. and i was horrified.

ever since i was shorter than a barstool i've been deer-in-headlights heart-racing scared of anything related to this one particular bodily function. even sitting here i'm having trouble typing all of this because just the words and the ideas related to emesis fill me with a dull thrumming panic.

at any rate, back in fifth grade, i somehow made it -- fear-faced and sweaty -- through band practice and the bus ride home and i promptly had a total tantrum at home in front of my parents. i refused to go back to band. i said i could never ever possibly go and threw in dramatic things like "if you make me go back i'll die."

my dad only got me to stop freaking out by telling me that if i didn't stop crying so hard, i myself would throw up.

silence. immediate, fear-based silence.

my parents' next course of action was to ask me if there was anything i could do to change what had happened earlier that day. could i turn back time and make it so that the oboe player didn't come to band that day? or didn't get sick?

of course not.

so i should stop thinking about it.

it was my first lesson in acceptance and change. it was my first paradigm-shifting glimpse at the alcoholic's favorite prayer - you know the one, about god granting serenity to accept things that can't be changed, strength to change things that can be, and wisdom to know the difference.

it wasn't told to me in quite that way, but it was as powerful for me as i imagine it is for the AA members who chant it in sync or whisper it in private. i would say that it has profoundly shaped my personality and my life.

it has made me a changer. it has helped me see that there are very few situations that i can't change. very few miseries i must simply accept.

parenthood was perhaps one of the first things that caused me angst and confusion and discomfort (and of course not only those things -- good things, too) that i couldn't simply change. i mean, i'd endured and accepted plenty of small things. short-term things. but parenthood was a whole different course of study for me, the eternal student of change.

and yet despite the lessons parenthood has taught me, i still consider myself to, well, more or less suck at acceptance. i'm so very good at change and so very impatient when it comes to acceptance. far easier to move on. far more satisfying to take action.

it was only this past week when something terrible happened to someone else in my life* that i realized i'm not so terrible at acceptance after all. when something really is out of my control, or even when i just know that trying to change it is only going to make things worse, or harder, or more painful for me or someone else, i am surprisingly able to step into acceptance like one steps into a lukewarm shower: i may not enjoy it, but i'm certainly able to do it.

it's a satisfying thing to know about myself. a peaceful thing. and while i wish this past week hadn't happened, or any of the things that led up to this past week, i am grateful for having learned this about myself. for the girl who fears she has fled too many discomforts too quickly, it's a very reassuring thing to know that she can sit and soak a bit in discomfort when she needs to.

* you, dear reader of this here blog, well know that i'm nothing if not right up front in your face with my own woes, struggles, and fears. however i try never to share anything that isn't mine. perhaps it's the writer in me, or the girl who once wanted to be a lawyer, but to me, other people's struggles deserve to be copyrighted; only their authors should reproduce them without permission. and so i shall remain vague. suffice it to say that i'm okay, and my kiddos and my husband. no need to worry about us.