Seeing life in colour

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

There is a delicate balance to be found between ambition for positive change and acceptance of things as they are. A seemingly innocuous belief in self-improvement can mask a pernicious underlying idealism. Who put all those “shoulds” in my head? Do they have any real right to be there, bullying me, flattening the technicolour reality into a one-dimensional value judgment?

I have realised that in many ways I am still mentally colonised by the idolatry of “normal” or “ideal”. Yes, I can see goodness and human resilience and thriving in far-from-ideal conditions in other ways of life, whoopee; but what about my life? My British(-with-a-touch-of-Algerian) culturally-mixed-up introverted weirdo life is no more dysfunctional, no more disqualified from flourishing under trying times… if I’d only stop judging for long enough to notice.

I am who I am. And I am finding my feet again. In my own way… which really isn’t too shabby.

Pain is a brutally kind friend to me, who shows up whenever I need some wrong thinking knocked out of my head… when I’ve been sucked into the dark vortex of black and white judgments, he strangles me and forces me to find the lifeline. Opening things up again there is breathing space: more degrees of freedom, more potentially beautiful configurations, more room for meaning. I think that’s how the miracle of resilience works. If you get good enough at it, like Michael J. Fox who is glad of having Parkinson’s disease, it isn’t even about serenely accepting, but willingly embracing your reality.

And no, it might not always be possible and certainly not always easy. I am not being idealistic all over again here. I choose to have faith; to stop trying to find grand global solutions and just go with the flow for now. 😆

This Sunday morning I am sitting in a warm quiet kitchen admiring a dazzling snow-blanket, a bright blue sky and wispy white puffs of cloud, and it is marvellous. Nothing is wrong. I’m breathing. I feel well. After two months of depression, that is more than enough. I am grateful.

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8 Responses to Seeing life in colour

  1. Marahm says:

    “Willingly embracing” your reality in the way of Michael J. Fox is an interesting concept. I’ve never been in the situation, and I hope not to be, but I wonder whether it is a genuine transformation of basic orientation or perhaps an elaborate construct of rationalization or other psychological tool useful for keeping people sane and happy in circumstances that generally produce neither sanity nor happiness.

    If the “willingly embracing” of an otherwise distasteful reality is borne of psychological maze-running, is it the less genuine? Let’s say not. Let’s look at “serene acceptance” and “willing embrasure.” Which would be more desirable for a person’s sustained well-being?

    One could propose that the nature of a person’s reality would dictate which position would work for a more satisfactory sense of well-being. Personally, I like “serene acceptance,” because it implies a balanced, integrated attitude that could maintain its own homeostasis when factors over which we have no control push us around.

    • Sarah says:

      I think (from having read Michael J. Fox’s autobiography a few years back) that he felt learning to deal with Parkinson’s had forced him to face a few personal demons and become a deeper, more mature person. Therefore to him, the overall benefit was invaluable.

      I think it’s amazing to be so humbly grateful for life and to be able to derive meaning and benefit from even really difficult experiences. But I wouldn’t like to say it should always be like that or could always be like that. Maybe serene acceptance is sometimes the better attitude. 🙂

  2. Lorri Scilini says:

    Ah, now I understand what it is we have in common….weirdo lives! Time to embrace them, as you say.

  3. Achelois says:

    Your final paragraph is serenity made alive. So beautiful! So true. So sane.

  4. susanne430 says:

    Great post and,yes, the last paragraph was nice. I felt I was sitting there enjoying the beauty with you. 🙂

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