Sometimes people argue with their life events. Why is this happening to me? Like Job, why me God? It does seem wasted energy though, since arguing doesn’t work. The argument can’t be won. Life continues to happen with its ups and downs. Frits Perls a psychologist from the 50s, said, “you have to accept something before it can change.” A paradox?
In my study of cultural stories around the world, I’ve found acceptance showcased as a virtue, that helps main characters regroup and succeed. Acceptance opens the mind to perceive how to make a life work without fighting it. Acceptance can create fluidity within, so that people can brave the tsunamis of life without drowning. Acceptance is not giving up but seeing clearly.
In a Uruguayan story, Piki, a young man living in the rainforest, found the wisdom of acceptance. In the story. he’s a good son, doing his chores daily by walking to the spring each morning to get water. He loves his forest home with raucous calls of the toucan and mockingbirds and plentiful hake and even anchovies to be scooped out of the river near the spring.
One morning as he went to the spring, he noticed a spider floundering in the water. He scooped her up and laid her on a rock ledge, noticing that the spider was white. As stories go, one morning by the spring Piki meets a beautiful woman, Taukia. She had stopped her canoe to get a drink. Time passes, and they meet here frequently and fall in love. It turns out that Taukia is the Chieftain’s daughter, unbeknownst to Piki. On discovering the romance, the Chieftain forbids Taukia to see Piki, since he is poor. He starts a competition asking future husbands to bring a beautiful gift.
Piki is distraught and desolate and argues with his fate. Why can’t they be together? Why is his life this way? Why is he poor? Life is so unfair! His tears rain all over his gourd cup of yerba mate. One morning he is shaken out of his depressed state, as he stops by the spring. He hears a voice. He realizes it is the White Spider, perched in her web. “Piki, look here. Piki look here. Let go of your frown. You are fine just as you are. Accept this.” Piki looked up and the White Spider had woven the most beautiful shawl he had ever seen. He went to find Taukira and the Chieftan. The shawl was the most beautiful gift of all.
In the story Piki moves quickly to accept that since he is poor, he may not be with Taukira. A path presents itself out of his dilemma. In life, acceptance of heartaches, failures and difficult relationships don’t happen this fast. But choosing to move to acceptance does work overtime. The gift of acceptance is that releases energy trapped by negativity, clears emotions and opens the mind to possibilities. Piki shows a truth that many stories convey. If one looks there may be helpers around to navigate adversity. The White Spider, a magical being, opened Tiki to possibilities, moved him off the dime. In real life, there are friends, walks in nature, shifts in attitudes, for example, that can become transformative helpers.
Acceptance, look around, a storytelling virtue to wisdom.