Acceptance is a small, quiet room. – Cheryl Strayed
Sometimes in life, you have moments where you look at every facet of your existence and you realise everything is going extraordinarily well.
Not so much in terms of: I won the lottery and I’m going to live my wildest dreams! Vegas, here I come, baby!
More like your social life is pumping and you’re really liking your job. You’re eating well and exercising, so you’re feeling hot to trot. Perhaps there’s an exciting new person on the scene as a result of this heat radiating off your body and my goodness, they actually seem to be interested in you for once (doesn’t it truly feel like magic when that happens?). Or perhaps you’re experiencing a revival of passion with your love of the ages.
Whatever the case, it feels like the stars are aligning and you have a moment where you think: Yeah. Things are pretty darn good right now. I’m one lucky punk.
I find these moments to be quite bittersweet, because they don’t last. Something will soon give. Sometimes this happens the very next day.
You’ll have a fight with a friend. You’ll somehow injure yourself during a yoga class of all things and won’t be able to exercise for a few weeks. You’ll have a really great date with your new love interest, only to have them inexplicably ghost you. You’ll have a bad week at your workplace and you’ll rue the day you ever chose to march down that particular career path, ignoring the fact that you were 18 years old at the time and didn’t really know any better.
Like everything in life, these moments of happiness are fleeting. This is something I’ve been constantly reminding myself of late, whilst events in my own life have been waning towards the other end of the spectrum.
When Isaac Newton lay down his laws of physics, he noted in his third law that all forces in the universe occur in equal but oppositely directed pairs. Or when formally and simply stated, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The beauty of the third law is it doesn’t just apply to science – it works for everything.
Put simply, if you have those rare moments in life where everything is going exceedingly and astonishingly well, you’re going to have similar moments where things are so bad that you constantly question why you bother getting out of bed every morning.
And the problem with these moments too, is that they don’t just come out of nowhere. You’d be very unlucky if you woke up one day and every single aspect of your life had turned to rubbish. There’s usually some kind of momentum building along the way – which can go on for months – culminating in that one moment where you look around you and all you can do is groan and hope to goodness it passes quickly.
I had a moment like this just the other day – where things hadn’t been grand for months. Worse still, less than a week ago I had believed there to be an end in sight. I was extraordinarily pleased about this and when the situation turned around for the worst again, I wasn’t exactly a happy camper. There was a lot of internal screaming and one clear moment were I was convinced I was having a nervous breakdown, although I couldn’t know for sure, having never actually had one before.
After wallowing in self-pity for a bit, I eventually realised that the best thing I could do in this particular scenario, was just accept it. Accept all the things that were happening were not actually a conspiracy against me – it’s just life. Sometimes things in life are really good. Sometimes they’re awful. Mostly they’re just mediocre and that’s okay too.
As a book-devouring extrovert, I find comfort in words and people and one of my friends made a good point, when she offered up a fun new idiom: Augen zu und durch. This is a German expression which translates to: “eyes closed and through”. I find this statement to be so sensible (and thus, typically German) because it really is all you can do. Grit your teeth and walk through the fire. You’ll be stronger for it when you come out the other end.
I accepted the situation as it was and woke up this morning with a lightness in my heart, able to once again appreciate things like the sun shining brightly on the last day of winter, the bus driver who asked how my day was going, the taste of the ham and cheese croissant that I bought as a treat for breakfast today. As the Cheryl Strayed quote at the top of this post suggests, acceptance is best done without fanfare and it is really quite a humbling experience.
I’m not saying that this is the magical solve all solution. You’ll still have moments where you feel down and frustrated because nothing seems to be going right and you wonder why you can’t just catch a break.
But what it does is give you faith. Faith that everything will get good again, or at least mediocre. And so life goes.
Is this something you can relate to?
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