Imagine a young boy, 12 years old, sitting at home playing video games, fully enjoying his summer vacation from school. He gleefully stands up during a tense part of the game in a vain attempt to capture yet another star in Mario’s Nintendo 64 journey. His empty glass of soda gets tipped over and falls from the table next to the chair. The crumbs from the Nacho Cheese Doritos scatter onto the floor.
He is having a great time.
Now imagine he goes upstairs to ask his father a question, only to find him sitting at the computer, a great look of consternation crawling its way up his face. His father, usually jovial in nature, is frustrated and saddened by something he had just read.
“What is it?” the young boy asks.
“Ask me again when you’re older,” he replies with a grumpy tone.
That boy did ask again a few years down the line. He finally received his answer, and it wasn’t anything like he was expecting.
As I sat down to write this blog post, I genuinely did contemplate giving a full in-depth, scaled look at some things from my childhood and young adulthood, including what my father told me those few years later. I planned on going into detail about how I felt when I first found out some of that information and how I dealt with the brevity of it all.
Instead, I wanted to go into a more vague point of view on the rhetoric of accepting the unacceptable. I know that sounds fluffed and “copped out,” but the idea still holds merit.
Beyond the cliché of life’s inevitable nuances, (taxes, sickness, death, etc), sits other inevitable qualities that every person will eventually have to commit to acceptance. Without that acceptance, every person will be forced to wade into a non-existent oblivion for an endless amount of time. Those acceptances can be as broad as puberty or as specific as a certain aspect of their personal lives.
For me, it was several things.
First, my mother was not a part of my life. Not only was she not a part of my life while growing up, but given what I know of her, I have zero interest in having her ever be a part of my life. She’ll never know my wife, my children, or my grandchildren.
Second, I have lost a good chunk of my teeth. I only have a handful of teeth left and currently wear partial dentures. In the next few years, I will be forced to transition into full dentures.
Third, I am 32 years old and still do not have any kind of financial stability, my own house, career, or a sense of purpose in this world.
Finally, I will never be a professional actor, voice actor, or author. Many of my dream jobs in the past decade have fizzled into static in the logical part of my brain. At this point, they are completely unreachable.
Many of those acceptances stayed with me as full baggage for an extraneous amount of time. The entire ordeal with my mother plagued and haunted me until a few years ago. At some point in my tired existence, I realized that I could never change what happened. Time moves forward regardless of how I feel about her or the situation. With that in mind, what was the point of continuing to let that hatred and apathy rule my life?
One day I woke up and decided that it wasn’t worth it anymore. My hatred was so strong, my feelings indelible, my insecurities severe. I couldn’t find the reason for them anymore. Rather than forgetting them altogether, I learned to accept them. Change wasn’t an option. Life with that kind of uncertainty and emotion wasn’t worth it.
My teeth were rotting. I couldn’t magically grow them back or change what had happened. I would never be able to eat the same way again. My smile would never look the same. My speech would be changed forever. I spent so many years working on my voice, my diction, my linguistics. With a pained memory that still pops up from time to time, I can never have the same vocal quality I once had.
Generations ago, people were moved out of their parents’ house by the time they were 18. They had jobs, some had college educations and were already starting families. Regardless of where life took them, they had footholds in the world and were digging it in deeper. Yet here I am with no home of my own, no career, and an unknown purpose of uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still happen.
My dream for so many years involved living in a big city in California or New York while working as a coffee barista and going to auditions. I dreamed of standing in front of the microphone and recording lines for Pixar. When that dream crashed, I imagined seeing the looks on the faces of my family as I handed them my first published book. Years of developing a story, and I had the book to show for it. It was a glorious thought. But then knee surgery and poor life choices crushed that dream with ease.
In my mind, the sensible option was to wallow in pity and prolong any future advances I might make in life. It was easier to continue working as a server or bartender and staying up all night playing video games. It made more sense to spend my money on a night at IHOP rather than saving to get my own place. I kept denying the unacceptable instead of being a strong, responsible adult.
I can’t tell you when I decided it wasn’t worth it anymore. I don’t remember the day I literally overcame the final obstacles in my pursuit to find purpose in this world. I accepted some quicker than others. Unfortunately, I spent too much time dwelling on how the unacceptable was unfair and disparaging. It took me to a very dark place in my life.
But one day, unbeknownst to me, I decided not to do it anymore. I decided that the unacceptable had to be accepted in order to move forward. While aspects of those unaccepted qualities, along with other minor ones, still float around inside my head, it has become far easier to accept them and focus my efforts on more reasonable logic.
If you’ll allow for one more cliché: life is hard. While that has been drilled into the minds of many a person from role models, it still holds a modicum of severe truth. Every person’s life is different. Every person struggles in his or her own way. Who’s to say one person’s struggle is different than another’s?
Just accept what cannot be accepted in your life and watch as the tension fizzles into nothingness.
I accept that my mother will not be a part of my life.
I accept that I will have full dentures and never recover my vocal qualities.
I accept that I still do not have my own house, career, or purpose.
I accept that I didn’t get to follow my dream jobs.
I accept that I am who I am. Otherwise, the falsehood of my life would rule over any other aspect of myself.
I don’t want to be false. I don’t want to be held down.
I accept the unacceptable.