Getting Used to Reality

 
Michelle is driving me back to her house, where I left my car. We just had a lovely dinner. Conversation with her just flows; she is one of my no-filter-required friends. The 84-Freeway here in Portland is doing its impression of Los Angeles traffic. The right lane is closed ahead, far ahead. We are going slowly.

Neither of us really minds.

People say the traffic in Portland is only getting worse. They say, with an air of desperation, “You better get used to it.”

BGUTI. Better get used to it. This is how it is.

 
I’ve written about acceptance.

A lot.
Because acceptance – the taking of reality as it is – is the backbone of any spiritual-religious practice. I have a three-module mini-course you can download on acceptance. It’s pretty brilliant.

Today’s perspective on acceptance deals with  Better get used to it.

This is how it is.

And this is how it has always been.

 
The following quote is attributed to Socrates, fifth century BCE:

The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for elders, and have love of chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

I love this quote. I love this quote. I love this quote.

Older people have looked at younger people for twenty-five hundred years and thought, “The next generation is crap.”

For 2,500 years!

For at least  2,500 years, people have been complaining that the young folk are “gobbling up all the dainties at the table.” For 2,500 years, there has been a refrain of “Kids these days.…

This is just what older people do.

This is the perspective that older people have about younger people.

Older folk think that younger folk are spoiled.

It’s not personal.

And it might not even be true.

It might seem true to the older person, but it’s not really true. It’s just what older people say about younger people.

Old people, get used to being disappointed in young people.
Young people, get used to old people being crabby.
No need to get upset – no need for ire under the disappointment – after all, this is just how it is.

Another example

It’s the end of the world

Similarly, every generation thinks that they’re the last.

The end of the world has been on the horizon since the beginning of recorded history. Every generation imagines that the world is ending. (I think this is because every person in every generation believes – correctly – their own death to be universal, irreversible, non-functional. And they project this reality out onto the world in which they live.)

The world has always been about to end.

That’s just how it is.

It doesn’t mean it is true.

You will die.

(I hope that’s not news to you. If you want some help coming to peace with this reality, let me know. I’m your rabbi and that’s part of what people talk to their rabbi about.)

The world, most probably, will go on without you.

(This is good and bad news. Both. We can talk about it.)

Again, no need to get upset – no need for ire under the disappointment – after all, this is just how it is.

And Another Example

When I was working in education full time, I noticed that, like my peers, I complained each year that the job was harder than the previous year.

After hearing this consistent refrain for a few years, I called upon Dr. Robert Farrar, one of my favorite professors of education, and asked, “Doc, has there ever been a time when education got easier?” 

He paused.

He started to laugh.

And he answered, finally, “No.”

This is just how it is

In Conclusion

We are pre-programmed to see that kids aren’t as good as we were.
We are pre-programmed to see that the Earth is going to end in our lifetime.
We are pre-programmed to see that our task is always harder than it was before.

No need to get upset.

No need for ire under the disappointment – after all, this is just how it is.

Kids will disappoint parents.
Parents will seem non-emotionally invested.
Work is as hard as it’s ever been.

This is just how it is.

This is just how it is.

Accept it.

Acceptance

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. 

When I am disturbed, 

It is because I find some person, place, thing, situation — 

Some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, 

And I can find no serenity until I accept 

That person, place, thing, or situation 

As being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. 

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. 

Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; 

Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, 

I cannot be happy. 

I need to concentrate not so much 

On what needs to be changed in the world 

As on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” 

– Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition p. 417

With lots of love and a little optimism that when we learn to accept reality as it is – that this is just how it is – that our world becomes less anxious.

Rabbi Brian

Visit Rabbi Brian’s website here

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