Embrace or Accept?

“This isn’t who they are. It is only what happened to them. The human spirit is incredibly resilient. More than ever this reaffirms we should never give up hope.”

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a quote that struck home as much as that one did — and does — for me. Who is it from? Jaycee Dugard.

It’s easy to unnecessarily bury oneself in the past. It’s easy to drag it into the present, and to make sure it has a place in your future like it’s some sort of cherished, irreplaceable possession. I can’t tell you why we do this, but we do. I know I do, anyway.

What are we going to do, pass it along to our loved ones when we reach the end of our life? Of course not — we would never wish it upon them. Then, I ask, why do we cling so tightly to that which holds us down?

Don’t let your past define your future.

People say this often, and yet it’s so much easier said than done. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be one of those things people say unless they have some sort of close, personal connection to it. It’s generally not something the innocent would utter, or that a wide-eyed, rose-colored-glasses-wearing individual would say to someone else. It’s usually spoken by people who know first-hand that there’s no value in letting a past define a future, and who have had to struggle through the muck on their own — sometimes for months, often times years.

Something that we do hear a lot, however, is that we should embrace our struggles. I agree that they’ve had a hand in making us who we are, but the last thing I want to do is embrace it. Who wants to embrace pain? Who wants to embrace strife? Who wants to embrace a self-imposed exile because of situations that we didn’t ask for? To me, embracing means welcoming it in and asking it to sit down for a spot of tea, perhaps a scone. It means talking with it and developing some sort of rapport.

I want no such thing with things that are in the past, but what I will do is accept them. I can accept they were there and I can accept their effect on me — the same way we in California accept that we live with earthquakes. The same way we know that not everyone has to be a friend, and that being a mere acquaintance that we want nothing to do with, other than to pass by from time to time, is perfectly acceptable.

Embrace? No. Accept? There’s really no other option.

The road to the future has a rear view mirror, yes, but what we choose to take from those things we’ve passed through is entirely up to us. We can glance back from time to time, or we can take it to heart and know when to veer or change course moving forward.

Moving forward: a commonly used combination of words that implies a lovely sense of motion, a sense of healing. Forward: a word which acknowledges the scars, but holds a lesson in each one, as well.

Today, for scars, lessons and forward motion, I am thankful.

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