Cambrian: Opinion

Acceptance is needed to weather all kinds of storms

The columnist’s Labrador at her overflowing pond.
The columnist’s Labrador at her overflowing pond. Special to The Cambrian

At last! As in bygone years, we’re finally getting a wet winter. Sure, the above-average precipitation and the destructive winds are causing some inconveniences and damage; nevertheless, after such a lengthy wait, these rain events call for some joy!

According to “The Book of Joy” by Douglas Abrams and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, we can choose joy even in the midst of difficult times. We can process life’s disasters and devastation in a way that “ennobles rather than embitters.”

As explained in “The Book of Joy,” acceptance is essential. Archbishop Tutu encourages us to “turn our faces to the wind and accept that there are storms that we must pass through.” Not to be confused with resignation, acceptance isn’t about giving up. Rather, acceptance is an awareness of our vulnerabilities accompanied by a willingness to rise above them.

Of course the figurative storms that Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama address in their book are extreme examples of adversity, which in comparison make a Central Coast storm seem like a day at the spa. However, for the purpose of practicing joy, the degree and duration of our suffering is not what’s important. What matters is our response to that which we perceive to be a challenge, hardship or misfortune.

Blow things out of proportion, and we agonize. Project our imaginings onto a situation, and we fear the worst. Reject what is in favor of what should be and we suffer. On the other hand, when we acknowledge and accept reality then focus on the things for which we are grateful, it’s possible to foster a state of health-promoting joy.

Up here in these Santa Lucia Mountains, in order to experience joy, we tune into nature. Radio off, laptop closed and battery-operated DVD player tucked away, we listen to heavy rain on the rooftop, crackling madrone logs in the wood stove and snoring dogs at our feet. So what if that wicked wind knocked out the satellite internet signal and solar system. Never mind the trees, boulders and mudslides that block the road to town. No need to freak out about that roofing that just sailed down the canyon. And hey, when the pond is overflowing for the first time in many years, who cares that a soaking wet and muddy Labrador just shook and cast brown droplets all over the freshly painted walls? Stay calm and carry on, right?

Life isn’t perfect. Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, here comes another storm. Still, it’s possible to accept there will be downpours in our lives. Problems due to storm damage are part of the price we pay to live. We’re just lucky enough to live where we’re surrounded by beauty, beauty that will soon be embellished with glorious wildflowers.

Acceptance and gratitude are some of the steps on the path toward health, happiness and joy. Ready or not, this walk will take practice and there will be tests. Guaranteed.

Let it rain!

Michele Oksen writes Mountain Musings for The Cambrian the second Thursday of each month. Her column is special to The Cambrian. Contact her at overtheridge@