Radical Self Acceptance, In Itsy Bitsy Steps

November 18, 2016

I bought a writing desk, because I'm trying to make writing a priority and just sitting down to actually write is somehow the least obvious step in that endeavour.  I spent some time rearranging the dining room to lovingly place the desk in the bay window, I bought a lamp of course and a little bamboo box for my pens even though I write nearly everything, everything, on my laptop.  I made a little pile of reference books with the bindings turned away because books on writing tend to be painfully ugly books to display.  I spent some time deciding which side of the desk my fragrant fruit blossom votive candle in it's delicate coral glass jar, should go on.  Left? Right? I lift it to my nose several times to breathe in the sweet spring scent and chase away some misplaced guilt over having not lit the candle yet.  That first lighting of a candle is so aggressive.  It ruins it's perfection, its glossy smooth top becomes ragged and it's wick charred.  But if you don't light them their scent dwindles over time and they become covered in dust and dead fruit flies and a lost eyelash or two.  I make a mental note to light the candle, but not right now.  Right now I'm writing. 

The vignette that is my writing desk is missing something.  The pencil box is too plain.  I bring out my favourite art markers and write the word create across its smooth bamboo front in a calligraphy-esque font.  The R runs into the C wrong and now it looks like a G, and the whole pencil box now looks like a testament to my failure as a make-shift calligrapher, which until this moment didn't feel like an important part of my self identity, but clearly it is.   I obsess over this for a while, with my art pens, making it worse before finally settling on something that almost definitely says "create" and not "greate".  I set it back in it's position on my desk and try not to cringe at its imperfection.  Its good enough.  I'm good enough.

A house guest asks me a question and I snap back with "no questions while I'm at my writing desk" as if this is an obvious and ancient unbreakable rule even though the writing desk just arrived earlier today.  The house guest is gracious enough to not point out that I'm not even writing, I'm fiddling with markers on a bamboo pencil holder.  Mental note: apologize to house guest.

The bamboo pencil holder, in its short time on my desk, has become a metaphor for my writing life, and my life in general.  Less than perfect, because it was made by my messy imperfect trembling hands.  I ruminate on the areas of my life where i need to accept the imperfect.  Radical acceptance, accepting things as they are and not as they could or should or used to be.   Seeing without judging. 

Radical acceptance of this C that looks almost a little maybe like a G.   Choosing acceptance when the anxiety rises that I've ruined the cute bamboo box.  That I wasted the 16.99 I paid for it.  That I'm not good enough as an artist or a writer or an old creative soul.   Radically accepting that I put my mark on something and good or bad, it is there.  This is a place to start.  

And with practice I will be able to radically accept bigger things.  The deep off-center pit created as a candle burns down.  The charred wick that is always too long or too short. Maybe then the feral voices that tell me I am a failure as a mom, as a wife, as a human being. With practice I'll be able to radically accept the areas in life that I've touched and affected, in ways that are neither all good or all bad, but are one hundred percent what they are.   One day I will be able to radically accept me.   But first, the bamboo box.  

Note to self: Learn not to hate the bamboo box. And light the damn candle. 


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2 comments

  1. Regardless of how the box looks or how you feel about it, the box is still doing it's job holding your writing items. You can either accept how it looks now or change it, but it will always be a box that can hold your writing items. We can accept how we are, change for the better, stay the same, but we will always be a place that the Lord Jesus wants to live. How special is that!! :)

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  2. You have me so curious about the loveliness of your bamboo box now. I'm curious because I get it. But also because I often don't do what you did for my own self-criticism judgemental and fear of messing it up.

    Nonetheless, I've learned and (mostly) know to accept I'm not perfect to and trying to be is fruitless. Besides, I think sometimes it's more fun, No, *I'm more fun when I'm not perfect. :)

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