I discovered a few years ago that I couldn’t relive my life by skipping the awful parts, or without acknowledging the worst parts of me.
I believe that whatever anyone says about me is the truth, good and bad, at least to them.
The more I listen, the more I learn.
The awful parts are what have made my life worthwhile. That’s how I grow and learn to feel.
I accept myself as a whole, just as I accept the world or the people I love.
When I started the blog, I wrote that people would get the good Katz and the bad Katz – and as we all know, there are both. But I promised that people would get the real Katz, and I am almost there.
It is a promise I never forget.
I have learned to stop fighting or resisting or fearing life.
It is an unending series of natural, unpredictable, spontaneous, and often mysterious changes, some welcome, some not.
I have learned to accept these changes and challenges rather than resist them or complain about them or lament them.
I no longer speak poorly of my life or regret any part of it. I no longer want anything that I don’t have.
I imagine what I want to happen and give thanks when it does. I also give thanks when it doesn’t. I accept disappointment and aging as the sacred and natural course of course.
Over this course, my body will begin to deteriorate and while I work to stay healthy, I also know where I am and where I am going. What is aging but life itself?
We are human beings. People get sick, are disappointed, die. We don’t get everything we want, not in politics, not in work, not in life, not in love. We also love, rejoice, learn to be human.
The more I know who I am and accept who I am, the less fearful and upset I get.
Lao Tzu wrote, “Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
This, to me, is the magic and peaceful space between fear and peace of mind, between resentment, fright, and the freedom to live meaningfully. It might be good, it might be bad. But it is.
We are often taught that holding on and hanging on are signs of toughness and great strength. For me, the opposite has been true. It takes much more strength for me to accept when to let go and then to do it.
People tell me I am calm these days, and more surprisingly, good-natured.
I can’t say if that is true.
I know I am more accepting; that has changed me more than anything. Some of it is age, of course, I have a lot more years behind me than ahead of me, but even the dumbest old dog learns a few tricks.
Acceptance is not the same as excuse, delusion, apology, or surrender.
Acceptance is a state of mind, an embrace of reality, good and bad. I am learning what I can fight and can’t fight and what I can’t fight is the inexorable power of life.
Radical acceptance does not mean being self-indulgent or passive.
For me, it’s just the opposite, it means stopping to question if I am fighting reality. It means trying to understand the causes of reality, even if I don’t like them.
There are always causes for the reality I don’t like. That understanding protects me from hate and grievance.
Radical acceptance is about facing the truth, accepting life on life’s terms, and stop resisting or fearing what I cannot or choose not to change. Some things just are.
Acceptance of any kind is about saying yes to life, just as it is. There is no value in judging life. None of us are powerful enough or wise enough to do that.
The real value comes from liberating myself from refusing to accept reality; it took years of failure for me to grasp the futility and anxiety of that.
Nobody wants to experience pain, disappointment, sadness, or loss.
But those experiences are as much a part of life as joy or happiness. Without the one, the other has little meaning.
Radical acceptance is about bowing to what I can’t change, foresee or stop. Everyone loses something or someone they love, and it will almost always be painful and difficult.
Everyone has it worse than me. We all face life.
This takes practice and thought, and I am often working on it.
But it has taken me to a place of peace and some emotional freedom. It has brought me to the mystical place of strength.