This week’s program is brought to you by the word “acceptance”.
Being a simple man, I can empathize with our fine green friend and the ton of truth about to be delivered on his doorstep as I struggle with twenty different topics. It’s well after midnight and here I sit, still waiting for the spinning roulette wheel that is my muse to stop turning and land on something. Odd how being so full of thoughts can function as an obstacle to having just one worth putting down on paper. While my blogging is not my diary or journal, it is the canvas on which I splash what I’m learning. But what splashed on me this week were things neither nice or comfortable. I was not consulted. I am not happy. It bothers me that my glass-half full preconceptions about learning being fun-damental were under direct assault.
But sometimes true learning is not about muppets or rainbows.
Sometimes, learning that sticks means stubbing your toe.
Many are familiar with the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr‘s Serenity Prayer (note to file: it wasn’t St. Francis) and the central role his prose has come to play in so many self-help programs. Less familiar, is the verse that’s been speaking to me this week.
The question bouncing around the dark and fertile playground that constitutes my imagination is equally simple: why do I go to such lengths to deny the obvious?
A staunch defender of taking the ‘road less traveled’, I have been harshly reminded that marching to the beat of a different drummer comes at a cost. For all my effort at evolving into an integrated and whole being, I’ve been reminded of late that there are times when it’s equally important to pay attention to those around us (who often know us best) to point out the obvious.
Let me come at this another way:
“There was once a man named Mullah Nasrudin who frequently crossed the border between Turkey and Hungary with only a donkey and pack on it’s back filled with hay. The guards at the border were sure the man was smuggling something, but they were never able to find a thing.
Every time Mullah crossed the border, the guards searched ever more thoroughly. They sifted through the hay, looked down the donkey’s throat, but never found a thing.
One day one of the old border guards, who had by now retired, walked into a bar and there was Mullah drinking and having a good time, so he decided to find out the answer to the mystery.
He went up to Nasrudin and said, ‘For fifteen years you had us bewildered. We know you had to have been smuggling. Now listen, I am no longer on the border patrol. I give you my word of honor that I will not turn you in, but for my peace of mind, you must tell me: what in the world were you smuggling?‘
Mullah smiled, ‘Donkeys‘.”
Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner! Like it was for our intrepid border guards, it was right under my nose, hiding in plain sight the whole time. My donkey is stubbornness.
Let’s review some beautiful bean footage taken in my house this week:
“Are you listening to me?” Yeah. What did you say?
“You can be so stubborn.” I am not. “Yes, you are.” No, I’m not.
“Did you see that woman pulling out of the parking lot?” Yes. I’m a very good driver and I’m not wearing any underwear.
OK, maybe I didn’t channel Dustin Hoffman, but the point of the matter is, I am stubborn. And I will (begrudgingly) admit there are times when I elevate the attribute to an art form. But I come by it honestly.
I’ve also spent a lot of time coming to grips with why I am constructed so.
For all those times in my distant past when there was no one – not one – pulling for me, I persisted and then, prevailed. In those darkest times of absolute loneliness, those were the times when the gift of stubbornness served me well. Granted, it wasn’t often pretty or the way I would have planned it, but when I did eventually come back to the surface gasping for breath, it was because of my stubbornness insisted it be so. Stubbornness. It has its’ gifts.
But there are other times (like this week) when my back was against the wall and it was my stubbornness that stood between me and gaining a victory. All I had to do was listen to others when they called a duck, well…a duck. I was so deep in my effort to persist that I couldn’t see around my blinders. It was plain to everyone else, but not to me.
I’m still startled at how difficult it is for me to look outside my own image of myself and see the donkey in front of me.
OK, OK. I’m a donkey, a very stubborn donkey. So now what?
Do I enter into a lab in order to be transformed into a Labrador Retriever or a speeding Maserati? Do I put on a straw hat and pretend to be a migrant worker or do I simply acknowledge what is plain to everyone else. That’s it. “Hi, my name is Dan and I’ve acted like a donkey.”
For any number of reasons, pride being preeminent among them, it can still be so hard for me to muster up the words, “I am stubborn”. Lori Deschene (3) says, “There are two ways out of a problem: accept what’s happening, see the positive, and choose a peaceful state of mind; or fight against it, be miserable, and struggle against the universe.”
I’ve done ‘miserable’. Been there and yet I still catch myself living parts of my life like I am doing penance for being ‘me’. Intellectually, I understand it’s a battle between my conscious mind and the subconscious brain imprinted with images of worthlessness in those first three or four years of life as an Earthling. But that was then and this is now. God did not overlook any demerits. I am not equipped to do a better job than the Cosmos that created me. So what do I do to tip the scales of battle in my favor? Maybe if I try a different imaging technique? Maybe if I journal twice a day? Maybe if I put on a straw hat? Maybe if I quack like a donkey? Maybe if I pray harder…
I would propose that maybe, just maybe, the path of least resistance in this area of my life is that way for a reason. Maybe I should just concentrate on being accepting.
Whoa…so easy to say, but at times, still so difficult to achieve. But this I know. If I want to be free, then accept ‘me’ I must.
And while far less sexy of an image, there’s the realization that if I don’t, my stubbornness will keep popping up like a beach ball I’m trying to keep under the water and no one wins that contest.
I’m so very grateful that I am loved. That for all my missteps, good things do issue from them. I feel such a sense of release that the biggest step is the first one…the little one…the one that reads ‘acceptance’.
I surrender nothing. I fight for what I believe in. The difference is that all of me comes into play when I accept what others see. Me. No exceptions. Me included.
See you on the path…
THIS WEEK’S MUSICAL SELECTION:
This week’s musical offering is dedicated to the pluck and persistence of a blogger I read all the time. At times, her pen shows bare knuckles and blood. Other times, in the words of our artist, I see majesty and grace.
touch her pic or click the link http://humaninrecovery.wordpress.com/
Go ahead and click on the album cover and enjoy the concert. We’re just about to begin. Nina, this one’s for you. – Dan
“My Confession” by Josh Groban (Label: Reprise)
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Kermie: http://www.yalerecord.com/german-cartoon-kermit-the-frog/; (1) W.W. Bartley, The Retreat to Commitment, p. 35, Open Court Publishing Company; New Ed edition (April 1990) (first edition 1962); (2) “The Truth” by Dick Sutphen referencing a story by Dennis Genpo Merzel: http://www.success.bz/newsletters/12248; ; mallard-duck-1024-768: http://ducksaretotallyawesome.blogspot.com/; (3) Lori Deschene: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/the-power-of-acceptance-stop-resisting-and-find-the-lesson/; Path of Least Resistance by Michael Sankey (A WordPress blog): http://michaelsankey.com/2012/02/07/the-path-of-least-resistance/; Josh Groban Album Cover Source: http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.php/34889893-my-confession-album-version; Nerd Definition – See Dr. Seuss: http://acidfreepulp.com/2013/02/20/lets-make-up-some-words/ (A WordPress blog)
For the benefit of the grown-ups among us: “The Zax are characters from the Dr. Seuss books. They are stubborn and arguable and have messy hair and hairy bodies. They live in the Prairie of Prax. Varieties of Zax include a north-going Zax and a south going Zax. Due to their stubbornness, they refuse to go in any direction other than their assigned directions. If a south-going Zax encounters a north-going Zax, they cannot solve their issue and the world progresses without them, such as a highway being built over them.” [http://seuss.wikia.com/wiki/The_Zax]
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