I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the many different types of acceptance. This concept seems an especially fitting thought for the week of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday — a time when we think about the differences and similarities between all of us as humans and enjoying the thankfully colorful world in which we live.
Like everyone else on the planet that has a soul, I have definitely struggled with self-acceptance and with acknowledging and even embracing my many imperfections. I have kind of a double standard when it comes to acceptance and love, because, while I am a harsh critic of my own imperfections and feel endlessly frustrated by the (many) mistakes I make, I often end up loving people because of rather than in spite of their flaws. Because, it is our flaws that make us most vulnerable and in which we can see our grittiest, down-and-dirtiest and also most beautiful humanity. And it is that humanity that makes real change, growth and deep connection with each other possible.
In the spirit of loving ourselves and each other and accepting the good, bad and grey areas within, here are a few quotes about acceptance.
“What’s been important in my understanding of myself and others is the fact that each one of us is so much more than any one thing. A sick child is much more than his or her sickness. A person with a disability is much, much more than a handicap. A pediatrician is more than a medical doctor. You’re MUCH more than your job description or your age or your income or your output.” — Fred Rogers (from The World According to Mister Rogers)
“The boy continued to listen to his heart as they crossed the desert. He came to understand its dodges and tricks, and to accept it as it was. He lost his fear, and forgot about his need to go back to the oasis, because, one afternoon, his heart told him that it was happy. ‘Even though I complain sometimes,’ it said, ‘it’s because I’m the heart of a person, and people’s hearts are that way. People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.'” — Paulo Coelho (from The Alchemist)
“Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.” — Helen Keller
“to love life, to love it even/when you have no stomach for it/and everything you’ve held dear/crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,/your throat filled with the silt of it./When grief sits with you, its tropical heat/thickening the air, heavy as water/more fit for gills than lungs;/when grief weights you like your own flesh/only more of it, an obesity of grief,/you think, How can a body withstand this?/Then you hold life like a face/between your palms, a plain face,/no charming smile, no violet eyes,/and you say, yes, I will take you/I will love you, again.” – Ellen Bass (from “The Thing Is”) (I’ve used this quote before, but it bears repeating.)