Updated: Jun 17
A pair of socks teach me to accept what is
It’s winter now in Western Australia. My feet have been feeling the cold so one of my daughters gave me a pair of socks. I was slightly offended at her choice, because, instead of them being dotted with pink, fluffy bunnies, or bright red love hearts, they featured this bold caption down the side:
WE’RE ALL MAD HERE.
As I looked at her gift, multiple thoughts screamed in my head. Who says I’m mad? I’m not mad! I’m sane! I’m saner than most people on this planet! If I ruled the world, it would be a nicer, saner place!
I put the socks in the bottom drawer and shut it with a loud thwomp!
But my feet were chilled. I opened the drawer, took out the socks, and resignedly put them on. For the rest of the day, I was conscious of the wording I was wearing. And by the time the sun set behind a bank of rain clouds, I‘d discovered that in one major way I was mad.
I didn’t always accept what had just happened.
So, what did just happen?
Burnt toast. Unripe avocado. No Likes on my business FB page. Failing to complete Wordle in six attempts, thus ending my successful streak of 44 days. My ranunculi bulbs still not emerging. High winds interfering with my internet reception. Coffee turning cold before I drink its last dregs. Heavy rain when I want to walk.
As I became aware of feelings like disappointment, annoyance, despair, fear, and regret as my mind fought with the present moment, I realised those socks I was wearing were right.
I wasn’t sane. I exhibited the most common sign of madness: fighting with what is.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this mental ailment, but there is a cure.
You can’t line up at the local surgery for a painful jab that will give you a sore arm and make you feel a bit sick for a few days and result in immunity to this form of madness. But there is an ancient, recently re-discovered, simple home remedy, found in every human mental medicine cupboard. There is no use-by date on the bottle, no side effects, and it’s free, and it’s labelled Accept What Is.
Accept What Is
The madness inherent in not accepting what is can be easily illustrated using the example of a basketball game.
You’re not watching the game. You’re on the team, dribbling the ball down the court, hoping to get a 3-pointer before the tallest player on the other team blocks your shot. But someone sneakily intercepts the ball, and within a few seconds it’s on its way down to the other end of the court, and through the basket.
What do you do at this point in the game? Fling your arms in the air with incredulity? Stand there with hands on hips and a frown on your face? Do you pout? Throw a tantrum? Run up to the scoreboard and try to change the score? Argue with the umpire? Appeal to the crowd for justice?
Of course not. You accept what has happened – what is – and plan your next move.
That’s what we should do in life. Whatever happens, accept it, then work with it.
As Eckhart Tolle says in The Power of Now:
. . . change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
Once you’ve accepted the situation, you can take the next step:
say or do something that is positive and appropriate;
leave the situation;
keep accepting the situation because that’s all you can do.
Life is a game. We don’t know what will happen next. Things like nature, health issues, economic changes, other people, or world events can change our life situation in a moment.
Whatever happens, don’t express madness.
Take a sip out of the bottle labelled Accept What Is and in strange, unexpected, even miraculous ways, your life will change for the better. And if it doesn't, accept that too. That way, you won't be mad.
Those socks were worth putting on. Wearing them made me saner!
With love, Marlane