Lately, I’ve been missing Charlottesville. Not the classes or the late nights, but the city’s beauty. Even as the weather would begin to cool, Charlottesville would have a bright blue sky hanging over it. The green of the trees would turn into reds and oranges, and they’d fall with a gentle whisper of the wind.
I now live in New York City. And it’s lovely in its own way. The green of the trees don’t turn nearly as bright, but the stray adorable cats greet me. It’s not as quiet as I’d like but it’s still home. I’m learning to accept New York City for what it is instead of what I wish it would be.
Yes, I’d love to live in a little cottage. Be surrounded by trees. Have a path through the woods filled with greenery. I’d love to look out my window with a cup of tea in hand and feel comforted by the nature surrounding my home. But right now I live in New York City. And that’s okay. I still make tea and I still wander outside. I just take the noise and tall buildings with it.
Acceptance of reality is a skill that’s dying in our world.
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Because of Tik Tok, Instagram and Youtube, we are exposed to the wonders of the world, particularly other people’s worlds, and that’s wonderful. I love that I get to see into someone else’s life and home. I learn from them and it influences me. That’s not always a bad thing. I fear, however, that because we can see so easily into the lives of others, we’re forgetting to accept our own realities.
Our own dirty dishes. Our own messy fridges. The cold chill of fall. Or the messy backyard.
Acceptance is the opposite of the curated life, the aesthetic life. We’ve been lured into thinking that the best lives are the prettiest. The ones most fit for the camera. Acceptance is not the thing we’re encouraged to do.
I’m learning a lot about acceptance this year. Though I’ve had some high moments, I’ve also had some really low moments. That’s the thing about life–it doesn’t fit into the curated lives we’re “supposed” to be living. Reality kicks the door down and suddenly, we have to turn the cameras off. We have to sit with ourselves and see our lives for what they really are.
Back to my cottage dreams.
I can either spend my days wishing for a dreamy cottage in the woods, scrolling through Pinterest and feeling horrible about what I don’t have. Or I can choose to work with what I have. I can choose to clean my messy room, curl up with a blanket, and read. Or play some music and dance. Or spend time with my family.
I have to accept, whether I like it or not, that my New York life will never be as green as I like. What’s in my power is acceptance. (And by all means, if you can change what you don’t like, go ahead. And if you can’t, choose to find a way to accept it as best you can.)
This season of life is not what I asked for when I dreamed of 2022. I’ve been slowly accepting unemployment, though it’s been a journey of starts and stops. I’m growing weary of trying to fight against this season being what it is. It’s been a few months and it’s time to begin appreciating. I’m appreciating that I have time to linger, time to sleep in, time to try new recipes. Even if it’s not what I would have chosen.
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Right now is all we have. The present moment is what we’re guaranteed. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Or even if we’ll enjoy it? To live right now is accepting the good and the bad of life.
Another pain we have a hard time swallowing: Pain is a reality of this life.
We can’t comfort or self-medicate our way out of that truth. Sometimes life just hurts. And we get tired and worn down and frustrated. And yes, everything is temporary including our pain, but who knows how long temporary will last?
I’m embracing today for all that it is. Accepting its gifts and bearing its burdens.
These days, I’m trying to practice slow living. My definition of it is not trying to squeeze so many things out of life but letting life expand to fill up as much space as it wants. Sitting with a friend until the conversation is done. Watching the steam rise off a hot cup of tea. Making my way through a book page by page. Taking a walk without looking at the time.
I’m lucky, even if I don’t always feel it. I have space in this season to accept the abundance of time given to me, and I’ve decided to take care of myself the best I can.
Accepting the reality of life and escaping the allure of the curated life is hard. It’s far too easy to continue scrolling and ignore the cracks in the furniture and the work piling up and the mess around it. We grow when we turn our screens off and say “I’m accepting this” and choose to make peace with the cards in our hands. We attempt the work and take a walk outside as a reward. We accept that our furniture will never look like a magazine and think about the memories it has given us. We clean up our mess, knowing that tomorrow we’ll make another mess and clean that one up too.
Accepting reality is saying yes to all the boring parts, like waiting at the doctor’s office with the same pile of magazines and taking the same route home on your commute. Instead of wishing our days away, we receive them as they’re given to us, knowing that reality is a bitter gift with a sweet taste.
I hope your reality is treating you well, friend! Let me know in a comment below how your days are going!
4 thoughts on “The Opposite of the Aesthetic Life: Acceptance”
This reminds me of the adage, “Bloom where you’re planted.” 😊
Even in older age, I find myself going through seasons of life. Do I take myself there, or is this a path that was laid out for me? Whichever it is, the path is only as beautiful and exciting (or as boring or ugly) as I make it.
Exactly! It’s about how you choose to see it.
Kudos for understanding this already Gigi. It took me many years to learn about acceptance and making the best of where I am. And it’s still a challenge.
Yes, it’s a challenge for me too. But that’s the beauty of life, Brad, we can grow when we’re challenged.