Radical Acceptance

Sometimes life makes you slow down or stop completely, and at the time you have no idea why. Like when people have chronic pain, or their loved ones die, or even they break a nail right after spending their last buck on a gel manicure. It runs the gamut; tragedy is all in the eye of the beholder. And as a good, upward-striving, forward-moving American, you dialogue with life, unconsciously sometimes:

Me: “Hey Life, what’s up?”

Life: “What’s up with you? How’s me? Ha, do you get it?”

Me: “Yeah Life, I get it, hilarious. Listen, I’m just wondering, why I had to be stopped in my tracks by the screech of tires and twisted metal, and why my so-called ‘chest contusions’ get better and then get worse, and so it makes it really hard to function, like to live you properly, and even cook for the kids, or be a good friend, wife, lover, you name it. I thought we were going along at quite a good clip there, why did you feel a need to throw me that curve ball?”

Life: “Well firstly, you think you were going at a ‘good clip’ but I think you’ll find that the truth was that you were a little manic.”

Me: “Okay, so? For me manic is just ‘functional.’ I need an extra amount of motivation to barrel through the veil of crazy that surrounds me on a daily basis. I thought I was doing pretty well actually, I was definitely barreling through the day of the accident, forcing myself to drive when all I wanted was to stay hom…”

Life: “Let me cut you off because you’re boring me. Here’s the thing, it’s not up to you to figure out the CAUSE of every single little thing that happens to you. Like precisely WHY something happened or didn’t happen, all you have to know is that there is a cause, and it’s a good cause, and you gotta trust me on this one.”

Me: “You’re not feeding me that ‘everything happens for a reason’ bullshit again are you, because I’m pretty much done with that one…”

Life: “No I wouldn’t do that for the me of me. Get it?”

Me: “Uh huh. I had no idea you were such a cut-up, Life.”

Life: “Sure you did. Think of all the hilarity in the world – one day’s worth of military budget could feed all the starving people in the world, but yet you guys just cannot figure it out. Or gravity, I think gravity’s a complete hoot, the way shit can just fall out of the sky and hit you in the head at random moments – genius. Or even Parachute Pants – that they were invented or that anyone ever wore them… but I digress. What I’m trying to tell you, is that if you don’t have to understand the reasons for everything, to know there is a reason and STOP WASTING ENERGY RESISTING EVERYTHING. I’m suggesting Radical Acceptance, it’s not a new concept, and if you think about it acceptance itself is kind of radical, no matter what your circumstances, it’s almost against human nature to accept what is. But give it a shot… okay, I have to go, it’s a matter of me and death…. Get it?”

Yes Life, I get it. Which is why today I’m going to accept that I am still not physically well, that I cannot exercise the way I was, that I can’t lift things, that I am still a little bit “differently-abled” than my fellows. I’m going to accept my younger son, how combative he can be, how he can escalate hysteria from zero to 100 in 6 seconds (like a Porsche) and yet he was the one today who urged me not to go to crowded Zuma Beach with him, and his brother, and my husband, and a play-date dad and daughter, as I dragged myself to get ready (with or without dragging around a beach umbrella) because I thought I “should.”

“Mommy, the beach is not your thing…” he said, practicing radical acceptance like a guru.

So I let the dogs run without leashes on the sand in front of our house at low-tide (because that is my thing) and they were as happy and free and present as it is possible for anyone with two or four (or more) legs to be. And I breathed in the ocean air, and tried to be more like them, and accept the radical notion that I am alive.


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