"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: acceptance

steep hills . . .

DSC_0099I was talking with G. this morning about how sometimes we go through long periods of what feel like hard times. And that life is not simply black and white between happy and unhappy but often grey for much of it.

I know that one of my daughters, who seems truly happy now, went through years of isolation and difficulty, personally and professionally. Another has been having her ups and downs as well. As for myself, my clearest memory as a young child was wanting to hide in the kitchen cabinet under the sink of the big house where lots of us were staying in Shanghai while fleeing from Japanese and Communist armies who were fighting each other at the time. The noisy company of all my cousins was something I withdrew from to be alone in order to Read the rest of this entry »


“acceptance” . . .

You know how people talk about “just accept it,” as though if you acquiesce and accept whatever, that it will make it okay? The zen book I am reading, “Being Zen,” handily counters this notion by saying it’s much deeper than acceptance. That living your life as your practice means that it would help if you realize what your expectations might be and that they are the real root of the problem of being unhappy. A real no-no. Because if you don’t have whatever expectations you might have about how life ought to be, then there’s nothing to accept, per se.

To put it another way, we, in our American culture, have a lot of expectations. Some might even say that they’re part of an “entitled” world view: every man and woman is able to pursue his or her American Dream and succeed to some degree, find the love of your life, bear beautiful, inspiring children, live in homes with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, huge flatscreen TVs, and have enough money to do and wear what you want.

If these are our widely held expectations, then there’s a lot of acceptance to be had when we’re missing some or many parts of that American dream. A Zen approach is basically to have no expectations at all and to experience the present moment for what it is, without judgment nor opinion, even. Otherwise, the book says, we are just living a “substitute life,” not a real one in a universe where we are not constantly feeling hemmed in with what’s working or not working for us.

Seems easy to describe. Harder to live by.

perspective . . .


The other day, our family went to our favorite restaurant for a Sunday lunch. We have had meals there on Christmas Eve afternoon and the last time was a brunch with my daughter, C., which had been fabulous. Much to our surprise this time, we were served overcooked dishes with what tasted like leftovers from the night before. Not wanting to spoil our time together, none of us mentioned it. Later, I wrote a review on “Yelp” about our disappointing experience. Shortly thereafter, the GM of the restaurant responded personally to my review in a very sincere and candid manner, apologizing for the sub-par meal that we had had there. I wrote back that we would be glad to return again and hoped the high quality we had gotten used to would be consistent in the future.

This incident made me reflect about the difference between being defensive and taking ownership for something and then apologizing. Have you ever noticed that some of the most entrenched (e.g., angry) attitudes appear when people feel defensive about something they might have done wrong? Nobody likes to Read the rest of this entry »

“don’t worry, be happy!” . . .

I noticed it’s hard to let go of hurt or frustration when relationships are wanting.

Someone said to me that he can only apply himself to what he has control over. I take it that excludes how others behave and what they might want that is different from what we hope for.

Speaking about the process of ‘forgiveness’, someone else said, “No matter what the offense is, the process of forgiveness is the same: You let go of anger and hurt by being mindful and focusing on gratitude and kindness. …Forgiveness concepts are simple,” he says. “It’s the execution that’s hard.”