The unsolicited virtue of acceptance
Many years ago, I had a dream; and today it seems worthy of sharing. I dreamt I was running on a city street (probably Chicago as that was where I lived at the time). Someone was chasing me. I was scared. I ran and ran, ducking behind dumpsters, weaving through alleys, trying to lose this threatening aggressor who seemed intent on doing me harm. I ran to exhaustion and was just about to give up when instead I turned, faced him and drew a handgun I didn’t know I had. I discovered as it left me a roar as large and frightening as my agressor. No sooner had I assumed the position, legs wide, knees bent, feet rooted and arms out straight to steady my gun, than the angry creature, so frightening to me before, dissolved to a cloud of cowering black dust and slunk away.
“Hm!” I thought. Lesson learned.
Tonight I took myself to the movies, to see “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”. The brilliantly disturbing comedy portrays the shadowy mindfield of the human doing (v. human being) who needs to be loved to exist. I both am that person and I am her victim. But the real battle is not with those who don’t love me; it’s with the me who fears annihilation without approval.
Mirrors, mirrors everywhere and still no eyes to see.
Flash back: four hours earlier today. Driving around town in my big black rented SUV, I’ve been listening to a CD – which I found in France as I packed my belongings to ship back to the US – was an unopened gift from a former boyfriend who died late last year. It’s a recording of a conversation between a wise man and a worried woman. The woman spoke of her issues with her family, who did not love her in the way she loved them. The woman was distraught. The wise man was calm, and his words rang true. Stop trying to be loved. Stop trying to love. Give up the fight to do it right. Be love. Be you.
Perfect timing, Eric. Thank you.
Acceptance does not always look like surrender, though both are virtues in my book. It simply tells the truth: this is who you are and this is who I am. Stop trying to make it better. There is a deep relaxation in that kind of acceptance, when you just know what you know. No words or explanations or apologies. It is pay dirt. It is the bottom. It is the way through.
My dream, now 30 years old, wakes me up with an alarm: “Get up. Take charge. Fight back.” The words of the wise man remind me that it’s okay to be human, fragile, broken. And the film spins a silken web of quietude within which I can recognize that my deepest longings are already true.
There is no place to get to, because on every fascinating journey I take, I am already there.