“Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there’s all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the will-to-action; acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens.” -Arthur Gordon

My contractor, Robert showed up to build the shelves we had planned out yesterday. He had all the shelves pre-cut to the measurements we discussed and were ready to install. I arrived as he was marking the stud lines. I smelled the shelves before I saw them. They were made of particle board. I don’t have a good relationship with fake wood. Years ago I got rid of all the fake furniture I had collected in my 20s after I read about all the formaldahyde off gassing that comes with pressed wood.

We discussed the price difference between plywood and particle board, but he was ready to install. I said, reluctantly, ok, go ahead. On my way out the door, I was sneezing violently. Even though I knew how much I didn’t want any particle board off- gassing in my green product office, I couldn’t quite get myself to say no to the contractor. The mental battle that I waged about whether I was making something out of nothing, weighing the expense, the inconvenience and the responsibility for the miscommunication, I felt immobilized.

My husband luckily picked up his phone in the midst of the inner battle. All he had to say was, “You aren’t going to feel positive about pressed wood in your office.” Then all the arguments I was having with myself, all the guilt about making my contractor start over, fell away. I knew what I could accept. I knew that practicing anything less would be apathetic,or worse. I have been there before. I called Robert and said stop.

We talked about the miscommunication, we both thought different things when we said the word “shelving.” We both felt bad and then good. It was worth whatever the expense and delay would be required to get to what was acceptable. No hard feelings. We will try again tomorrow with real wood.

Today I learned that acceptance is not submission. Rather, it is the process of acknowledging the facts about the situation you are in, and deciding what to do with it.

It is actively creating a positive relationship with your reality.