Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Acceptance


I was just doing a huge pile of dishes that had accumulated this week (that's right, I'm one of the 47 people in the U.S. who does NOT have an automatic dishwasher) while listening to Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion. I spent a lifetime in Duluth, MN, one winter, and still have tons of ex-inlaws who live there (check my Facebook relatives!), so I really appreciate the jokes about Minnesotans.

ANYWAY, during one of his monologues, he said "when I was young, we accepted the world as it was given to us." Something about that statement hit home with me. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and I considered myself lucky most of the time, even though, in retrospect, I lived in a semiconstant state of fear and unpredictability. .

Like many others who were raised by WWII vets, I had an alcoholic dad who could vacillate from caring and supportive to cruel and abusive. I took it as my lot in life and managed to find ways to live and thrive in spite of it. I knew that events in and around school and church would be approved, but regular socializing wouldn't. So, I made church my social outlet.

I had perfect attendance at the local Friends church for more than 7 years (and I have the pins to prove it!). I wasn't really a Quaker, but it was the only church that was within walking distance of my home. That way, I could get there on my own. So, Wednesday evenings, Sunday mornings, and Sunday evenings, I had permission to leave the house and do something that I didn't get in trouble for doing.

I don't remember the names of any of those lovely people, I just remember that they were loving and kind and that we had the best hymns ever! Somehow, the hymns we sang in the Episcopal church my mom would occasionally bring me to were never the type I could take home and play on my accordion (another secret revealed--thought you'd like the cartoon).

As I got older, I became less accepting. I wanted what I thought others had. To me, my friends seemed to be happy; their families were more like the families I saw on TV. Of course, now with the wisdom of 60+ years I know that no home was perfect. No parents were infallible. Even children who had seemingly functional families grew up to have problems, do drugs, and maybe even spend time in jail. And, many of us from dysfunctional families thrived as adults, succeeded in education and work, and did all we could to give our children a steady, loving, "normal" life.

I don't know if today's children "accept" their lot as we did. They've been taught to report anyone who disciplines them, uses inappropriate language, or sells products that are subpar. We wear helmets and seat belts and everything we use has warning labels telling us to do the most obvious things (my favorite is the label on the windshield sun reflector telling you to remove it before driving). .

I have a hard time remembering the really bad stuff that happened to me when I was young. But I do remember the times of fun and light. I remember that life is given to us, and what really matters is how we react to what is given. I don't advocate complete acceptance of what life brings, too much is still harmful or abusive. Rather, I believe that we must learn to have aspirations that rise us above mere acceptance of what's given. Nonetheless, there is something to be said for "accepting the world as it is given to us." For in the long run, every moment is a gift. It's up to us to determine the best way to use it.

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