I’m getting lots of mileage out of the bicycle accident of two weeks ago. Pain, stiffness, and tingling sensations are daily reminder of my physical vulnerability. Friends and coworkers continue to inquire about the incident and my recovery. Each time I find myself reporting this steady joyfulness. Form the first instance, lying in the middle of a four-lane thoroughfare, I’ve felt as if bathed in a state of deep well-being. Realizing that I was basically unhurt, I watched with curiosity what was going in outside and inside of me. A heightened awareness has led to an intense appreciation for this life, this aliveness, the ability to walk and talk, to see and to smile, and to receive with gratitude the expressions of concern and love from others. And, ultimately, to be present with those we care for at hospice.
In terms of Buddhist practice, as best as I can explain. this has to do with seeings things as they are. The accident was an accident, nobody’s fault as I can see (even if there’s a legal pint of culpability somewhere). Afterwards, my bike and body were damaged and I missed some days at work. From there, so the teachings go, I had a choice. I could attach things to cause suffering or not. Such add-ons could have been of the ‘poor me’ variety and the ‘stupid other driver’ kind. Blaming self and others, casting me in the role of victim and the other as careless driver, were possibilities.
Instead I emerged filled with joy about being alive and compassion for the driver. And the amazing things about all this (at least to me who has always been attracted to the darker view of life) is that my response to the accidental events came about all by itself. Not as a result of careful weighing or consulting a book or teacher, but from a deeply-rooted awe at life’s unfolding.
As you practice acceptance, you grow in your ability to face and fully accept people, circumstances, and things just as they are. Acceptance is not a passive resignation … not just making the best of a bad situation. It is an active presences to life just as it is.
Acceptance means not pushing away, denying, or excluding things or circumstances that you don’t like. It is the process of continually dropping expectations and judgements and accepting what is.
Acceptance expands your vision, acknowledging all aspects of yourself and the world. Nothing is walled off. Total acceptance connects you with everything and helps you experience wholeness.
source: Birx, E. (2002). Healing Zen: Buddhist wisdom on compassion, caring, and caregiving–for yourself and others. New York: Penguin Books, p. 133.