The Struggle with Acceptance. And Lightbulbs.

Although the conversation happened weeks ago, his words stuck with me. We’d just shared a meal together and were updating one another on recent life happenings: He had a friend whose health was declining. I had a friend who was struggling with a difficult work environment. We both had a common friend who was going through a tough downsizing transition.

“It’s hard,” my friend Al said, “but you have to accept what you can’t change.”


I have always been a fan of the serenity prayer. Al netted it out nicely, straight to its core, as he so often does.

I first met Al in my IBM days. He was a Mensa-brilliant systems engineer and I was a rookie marketing rep. I quickly learned the value of aligning my sales goals with his technical analysis of our customers’ needs. One of the IBM mantras at that time was a simple one:


So we did.

That friendship began 30 years ago, before my paralysis, and has remained steadfast ever since. Our Friday night get-togethers include a light dinner and often heavy conversations on anything from history to politics to religion along with a glass or two of red wine and several episodes of a television series or an occasional movie.

Oh, and he helps me with a chore or two as well. Lately, he’s been changing a lot of lightbulbs.

We still talk net.

Accept what you can’t change.

And aren’t there so many things we have to accept?

Our history.
Other people’s choices that affect us.
The aging process and all the trimmings that go with it.
The empty nest.
The retirement vacuum.
Health concerns.

And of course, the weather!

The problem, as we discussed, is getting to the point of acceptance. The litmus test questions include:

Can I accept the situation? Is there anything that can be done to change the situation? Is it in my power to change the situation? And finally, is it worth all the effort to try to change the situation?

For me, I’ve learned to pay attention to my tolerations and how they affect my mood. Specifically, I’ve discovered:

What we can tolerate we cannot always sustain.

What we can tolerate we cannot always sustain.

Such is the case with my burnt-out light bulbs (especially the expensive ones that were supposed to last for fifteen years!).

Often I’ll tolerate the darkened area, a little miffed that the bulb burned out before its time while secretly lamenting the fact that I have to ask for help to change it. That bulb is undeniable evidence that I now have to ask someone else to do what I once could do myself.

And it hits me in that vulnerable spot, the one that can lead me into victimhood thinking, complete with questions that can send me into a downward spiral.

Yet the reality remains. The light is out and I can’t change it. I have to accept that fact.

Then the situation starts to bug me, this compromised living I’m tolerating. Why let a burnt-out bulb remind me of my limitations, point out the unfinished business lingering on my to-do list, and darken my mood? Especially when Al always responds to my gratitude with his signature “net” response:

“I’m happy to help.”

And he is.

Often my tolerations build up to this tipping point of action to either change what I can—or accept what I can’t.

Just like Al said.

Although life gives us plenty of inevitable realities that we must accept, we often have a choice about what we tolerate.

Thanks to Al, I have one less toleration to endure.

Wishing you good friends, good moods, and clarity of action if you find yourself perched on a toleration tipping point.

And on we go.

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Al and I also enjoy a smile or two with our Snapchat filters!
Enjoying a smile or two with our Snapchat filters!

P.P.S. Madison enjoyed being Minnie Mouse for Halloween! Thanks again for your support of our Pathfinders for Autism Zoo Run team.
Madison enjoyed being Minnie Mouse for Halloween!

P.P.P.S. For some reason, my last column was marked as “junk” for some of you, including me! Here’s the link in case you missed it: The Wisdom of Trees.