For years, I’ve focused on the courage and wisdom parts of the Serenity Prayer. Courage to change the things I can. Wisdom to know the difference.
Surprising to some, I dove into the courage part. It was something to *do*. I hid in action for a long time. Along the way, I got to flex my wisdom muscle on the regular, too, which gave me even more reason to hold my head up. (Back then, I felt I needed a reason. Some justification, in case I was tested.)
I was scared shitless most of the time, but I felt my feelings again. That was a major improvement.
As time marched on, I was less and less scared. Not because I was becoming so wise, mind you, but because I was getting tired. I was kinda worn into acceptance by the overflowing state of my plate.
Whichever way you get to it, though, acceptance of what you can’t change beats every alternative. This life is relatively short, comparatively. Even if you believe – like I do – that our souls will incarnate again and we’ll all be back, the current human lifespan is still pretty short.
As such, I have to recognize that at 47, at best, I’m sitting squarely in the middle of this life…maybe even leaning more toward the second half than the first. When I look back over the 47 to here, I can almost work up a really good *appalled* at how much of that time I spent in needless angst.
Angst is largely a wasted emotion. Think about it – the whole point of being in angst is to be butt-cheeks-clenched about something over which you have little to no control. Colossal waste of time and energy. Plus, angst gives you a headache.
But, I digress…
My point is that if I’d lived my life with the same gusto and fierceness I conjured snatching it back from the abyss, I likely would never have met the abyss. Anyway, acceptance by way of weariness is better than nothing, but it becomes rather wearisome itself, after awhile.
Then along comes acceptance by way of serenity. Taunting me…daring me…
The voice in my head says I can’t do it…that I can’t *choose* to accept something…that some things just yank my chain too damn much to accept as they are.
But my wise self knows that’s a load of shit. It is possible to accept anything because acceptance does not mean approval. It’s possible. Not easy, but possible.
So that’s where I find myself these days…taunted by serenity…searching for this new breed of acceptance.
I’m beginning to understand, though, why serenity is required… Why merely *beaten down* doesn’t cut it for the long haul. The resurgence of indignation that comes with any relief of overwhelm makes acceptance impossible for that moment. I’m learning you truly have to let shit go to find serenity. You have to be willing to put some things down to get through the next door.
And so, too, I understand more and more the reason I have days like today where I’m just pissed off. It’s just a part of the process to get from here to there. They’re feelings…not facts, I keep reminding myself. And many of them have been bottled up for decades, so yeah, no surprise they’d make a little noise on the way out. I can watch them march by like the parade that they are, without thinking I have to act on each and every one of them.
Serenity first. Acceptance second.
Yeah that acceptance thing is a tough one. For me, the trick is with an alternate version of the meaning; I discovered this thanks to the Tibetan teachers whose counsel I sought when near the end of my rope a few times. (Why is it that we torture ourselves before we ask for help? Ah but that's for another day!)
Equanimity is the state in which I know "it's all right and I am all right and even if I don't like some things it's STILL gonna be all right — right NOW." To me, that is what acceptance is all about. I "get" that things are what they are. I am NOT required to like them; in fact when I notice the contrast between what I want and what is manifesting, if I'm smart, I can figure out what I want to do. Often the way (or the choice) becomes clear — when until then I was fogged in by emotion.
No, acceptance does NOT mean approving of, allowing, or even applauding anything.
It does get me to settle down into the truth of me. And get out of my own way.
Do I do it well? Nope, not at all. But, like you, I'm learning how — and getting better at it, year by year, day by day. Especially when I can remember that what I'm after is equanimity — not agreeing to someone else's BS 🙂
Good post Suzanne, being 52 I agree completely. I find myself reviewing my life to this point and wonder why i wasted so much time worrying about thins that i cant change. At this point, am going to live life to the fullest. My father told me once "live everyday like it"s the last one because it might be" Thanks for sharing