There’s an internal battle we often fight between accepting life for what it is and pushing life for what we want. The very act of rejecting the present can feel like nonacceptance. It is in those very moments that we can potentially create breeding grounds for stress (even on a good day) and resentment (especially on the worst days). How we choose to process and handle not being where we desire to be, whether in our careers, health, relationships, etc., is often the root of our daily temperament. On the bright side, however, pushing against our present realities can create a hunger within us to strive for more, to beat the odds, and to drive ourselves to success.
This doesn’t seem to happen as much when we choose to allow every day to unfold as it may, becoming passive participants in our lives. There is undoubtedly great credit to be given in trusting the will of the Divine, being fully present, and accepting where we are at with open arms. If we absolutely believe that all is as it should be, then the inclination to despair in the face of unrequited goals is significantly reduced. On the dark side, however, this stance can sedate the willpower within us to make plans and create strategies, manifest our greatness, assert ourselves in every situation, and savagely pursue our dreams.
So, where is the balance between passive participation and active fulfillment?
Can we peacefully accept the present while passionately rejecting it?
YES. We can. But it may require a shift in how we perceive balance.
A helpful perception that we can use is simplifying the dilemma into a table tennis match.
You, on one side, and Life on the other, locked in a lifelong pursuit of winning this exciting game. You’re friends, no doubt, but the competition is very fierce. Life darts to the left to hit the ball you just fired, whipping it back at you with a twist of the wrist. You grin at the curvature of the ball’s path, impressed but prepared for its rapid descent before it crashes into your side of the table and bounces back with speedy fervor. You barely make it to the left edge of the table in time to reach your arm far enough for the racquet to meet it. You don’t miss, not this time, because you’ve seen this move before. You’ve lost a couple of rounds in the past because of it, but you’re a quick learner and a good sport. You know better than to get stressed out when you lose — stress is a distraction, and you’ve seen many players fall prey to the blinding rage of losing. Instead, you keep your head in the game, adjust your strategy, and focus on the continuously changing route of the ping pong ball. It is, after all, the only way to win.
When it comes to the game of living, there are two undeniable facts. Fact#1: you can never, and will never, win by being a passive participant. Fact #2: there are going to be times you will lose, guaranteed, but once you’re still breathing, there is always another round to play.
If you’re going to have a chance at winning, you must be competitive and create adaptive strategies. Some moves require a hard and fast approach, while others need a tender touch. You will need to readily adjust when Life hits back, jumping to the left and then the right, most times without notice. You will, therefore, need to be flexible enough to move quickly without breaking, remaining diligent and joyful with every strike. And above all else, you need to keep your eyes on the ball. Always.
Using this perception of life, in response to our dilemma, how can we peacefully accept the present while passionately rejecting it? The answer is simple: in life, you need only be a good sport.
What does it mean to be a good sport?
You don’t get angry at Life when it outplays you. Instead, you peacefully accept when you lose. Then, you passionately reject any of the behaviors that prevented you from winning. You can do this by analyzing your strengths and weaknesses and examining how you can improve your defense and offense. You don’t bench yourself or stand back and observe. You train, you work on your technique, you learn from your mistakes, and you keep pursuing the wins that set your soul aflame.
The role of acceptance is never to pacify.
Its role is to help you acknowledge where you are at the moment so that you can chart a more feasible path toward growth. If acceptance doesn’t make you move, then what you’re actually being is nonparticipative. The very fact that you’re alive means you’re on the A-team. Resist anything that makes you passive because when it comes to the game of Life, you are meant to be your most assertive, responsive, and active self.
The FIRE must always be present in your gamesmanship … because Life hits back hard; Nature hits back hard; Your Past Self hits back hard. No matter what you’re facing on the other side of that ping pong table, it is your duty to give your all and your best to the game at hand.
When Life pings, you must pong!
Have there been times that you’ve struggled to find the balance between acceptance and pursuit? Feel free to share your story in the comments below. Active participation is encouraged. :)