I am not happy about the brain surgery I had. I tolerated it. I’ve dealt with lingering post-issues. However, have I accepted any of it? I was recently told that the path to dealing with life events, failure, and disappointment is acceptance. What does that mean? I recently dug into the dictionary of Google and found myself stuck between tolerance and acceptance. I learned a new perspective.
I drilled down through layers of web pages and definitions. I dug from high-level headlines to a detailed analysis of terms and descriptive words. Acceptance comes from the word accept which means that you consent to receive, believe or recognize. Yea, okay. Consent is not implying that I welcome, without trying to rewrite. I’ve often recited the obvious — you can’t have highs without lows, but I haven’t been past tolerance with the lows. I pondered as I looked out the window at trees and life.
We all quickly accept things that go our way in life. We accept without questioning desirable life events such as passing a test, enjoying a day with family, or finding a new pleasure in the form of food, book, or activity. We don’t obsess about decisions that we made that went well regarding career choice, friends made, or journeys traveled. However, when things are bad, which they factually are at times, we ask why? We do not want to recognize or accept that life can be really rough.
I pondered that something can be tolerated but not accepted. However, one cannot accept without tolerance. After thinking really hard, and digging further, I started to understand the difference. Acceptance is moving our hearts and minds toward being okay with something.
Tinnitus is ringing in the ear. If you don’t have tinnitus, it probably sounds pretty benign. However, if you have it you know what crazy is. It doesn’t go away. It gets worse in some settings, but it’s always there. My tinnitus roars at times after being in a noisy setting. It changes with the movement of my eyes. However, if I don’t think about it, I tune it out. I forget about it for a while, even though it is still making the same sound to my brain. I know that there is nothing I can do about it, so I have accepted it.
Single-sided deafness is odd. It can range from unnoticeable in a quiet setting to frustrating when a grandson whispers something in my deaf ear. Shortly after becoming deaf in one ear, I was still adjusting. I was at a hotel and picked up the phone to call the front desk. I was holding the phone to my deaf ear. All I heard was silence. I hung up, looked at the phone, and tried again. Nothing. After three tries, I recognized I had been holding the phone to the wrong ear.
I switched ears and called a confused front desk person. At that moment, I could have been frustrated and depressed. However, for some reason, I chose acceptance. I laughed and apologized to the confused lady on the phone, explaining I had recently lost my hearing. I believe this was an example of acceptance – not just tolerance. It is a fact that I am totally deaf on one side. All frustrations aside, it is a funny story.
I haven’t been as gracious to myself about other things I should accept. I still question why I have not been able to will my body to heal faster or more fully. I am still limited in cognitive and physical stamina. I continually tolerate those limitations but haven’t fully accepted them. I get stuck between giving up and moving forward between tolerating with frustration and accepting by making new plans. I want to blame myself when I should accept that this is the journey I am on. I am not going to wake up one day to a different reality.
I’ve tried in spurts. I confidently find a new direction in life in my continual attempt at adding value to the world. However, when things don’t go as envisioned, I find myself pouting about how hard life is. I find myself bemoaning the old days. I don’t accept that I won’t get an honor badge for tolerating brain surgery. I won’t get a free pass for future endeavors. In fact, I’ll frequently pay a higher price to play in life. I don’t like that. But can I accept rather than tolerate? Am I missing new opportunities that may be very rewarding because I’m too busy looking back?
I’ve lived in many houses throughout my life in several different towns. I accept that I lived in one house as a child and a different one now – with many more in between. Sometimes the movement from house to house was my choice, and other times not. However, the moves happened, and my daily view was different. While I miss the view from previous houses, I love the view I have now of trees and space. Even when the trees are bare and brown in the winter, I know they’ll be green again in spring.
I can rearrange my current living room. However, it’s futile to try to fit things into a room in my house exactly as they fit into a previous house. I need to focus on the house I am currently living in. Maybe now I will try to view my mind and body similarly.
I constantly chaff at the changes in my life post-craniotomy. However, maybe if I focus more on what has happened rather than on what could have been I would feel more at peace with where I am in life. If – scratch that — WHEN we encounter a valley in life, the only way to get back on top of the mountain is to climb it. The pursuit of a full life is through trial and error, accepting that success isn’t guaranteed. Bumps and switchbacks are part of the journey. Can we embrace acceptance?