Hope in Acceptance
I don’t know about you, but for me, resolutions this year were a no-go. In the past, January has been my time to reflect and set new goals. It always felt good to start the new year with a road map. But…this year was different. This year, I wasn’t able to plan because this year, I have no fucking clue what is even happening.
It seems like 2020 rolled right on into 2021. I think we can all agree that this year hasn’t gotten off to the best start. We are still facing a record number of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and death. And we are unclear about the long-awaited vaccine and don’t know just how safe and effective the shot might be. As a country, we are now morning the sadness of the recent events in Washington D.C. and wondering how in the hell we as a nation will move forward. Yep- so far, 2021 feels heavy and yucky and icky- all the things we were hoping it would not be.
So, I’ve started this year in a funk- not so much emotionally but directionally. I don’t know what to do because I don’t understand where we are.
The other day while driving, I was listening to one of my mindless podcasts and, in the midst of the nothing, I heard something. And this something was good. And it stuck. And it gave me pause.
The something I heard was the notion that this year, maybe instead of setting goals, we set a word. We set just. one. word.
The idea was to simplify, and the thought was that by choosing a word, by choosing just one word, we are bringing a straightforward and easy to follow direction back into our wandering lives.
One word. That’s it. Just one word.
I loved the idea of this. One word. I could do one word. And I actually knew what my one golden word would be. And my word surprised me a little because it wasn’t as motivational or goal-oriented or achieving as my focuses usually are……….
No, my one word took me a little deeper into the present moment. So, what was my word?
But why acceptance? I had to ask myself that question as I continued the drive home. Why had that word come so quickly and strongly to my mind? Why is my word telling me to stop instead of forward march? Isn’t that what motivation should be? Something that encourages us to do better? And isn’t acceptance the total opposite?
Maybe. Or…maybe not. I became curious about my word and wondered why it came to me so quickly when it was seemingly focused more on surrender and less around achieving. It took me a bit to understand why my word was my word, but as sometimes happens, my answer came to me in an unexpected way and in an unfamiliar form. My answer to the question of my word came to me a few days ago from a nurse I met in an elevator.
I had just left my doctor’s office. I was a little sore and a lot grumpy after having yet another instrument shoved down my right cheek sinus and more scabs painfully removed. My doctor didn’t know why this right sinus stays chronically infected and I didn’t know how to accept the not knowing. Feeling discouraged and a little down, I wasn’t really in the talking mood, but thankfully, the nurse in the elevator was.
I was already on the elevator when the nurse stepped on. As she moved to the opposite corner, she expressed to me her anger at a man she had just passed who had not been wearing a mask. I nodded as I listened and tried to hold my breath for fear of any possible COVID germs that might be lurking. The nurse went on to tell me that her anger was because, just two months prior, she had lost her husband to COVID. And he’d been only fifty years old.
The elevator doors opened before we could properly finish the conversation- although I’m not sure there is a right way to end something like that. All I thought to do was look this nurse in the eye and tell her how very, very sorry I was. The nice nurse smiled at me through her eyes and told me she was still working on accepting the fact that her husband was gone.
And there it was- accepting. Acceptance. Accepted. No matter what form of the word we use, it’s all the same. Acceptance is coming to terms with the ugly. It’s accepting what is and that comes only when we have accepted what will never be.
And it was then when I realized that in order to move forward- whether it’s in my own life or collectively as a nation, we have to first accept where we are standing in this very moment. I don’t believe acceptance is giving up. I believe accepting our reality is maybe one of the braver things we will ever do. Because it’s not always pretty, but it’s honest. And it’s real. And it’s fleeting.
What is right now will not be what is in the future. Our moments pass us by one after the other. We will never have a used moment back again- ever. So, to me, acceptance is seeing our lives and our world clearly because when we are able to do that, then we are able to move forward. So, before we busy ourselves with setting goals for the future, let’s stop and acknowledge and understand what is in today.
Through all the yuck, I’ve come to realize that in order for us to head off into a new direction, we must first know from which point we are starting.
So, let’s start with a word. Just one word. One simple word.
And then let’s follow our words into a more hopeful tomorrow.
In love and hope,