Daily Archives: May 9, 2011

Monday Motivator: Accept What You Can’t Change

I saw my first cicada of the season yesterday. To be more accurate, I saw my first several hundred. They apparently had been in the ground under a friend’s tree. And now there are thousands of cicada shells surrounding the tree. And if you look closely at the trunk, you quickly realize that you’re more likely looking at cicadas than tree bark.

The response of our group was divided. One of my friends was enthralled by them. He went around the trees, examining them and picking up a few to put on his arm.  The children, who were not alive the last time the cicadas emerged, were mostly afraid of them. In fact, one little girl burst into tears when my cicada-carrying friend came too close.

Her dad rescued her, but said, “If you’re freaked out today, then you’re in for a rough few weeks ahead.”

Granted, for a five-year-old, cicadas probably seem like they’re right out of a horror movie. Thousands of them, red-eyed, noisy, and apparently ready to drop out of a tree and into hair at any moment, it’s a nightmare come to life. Still, the father was not being unsympathetic. They’re scary but not dangerous. And unless, he kept her inside for the next six or so weeks, there really wasn’t much he could do to protect her from them. Her only real protection would be in her attitude toward them.

Now, this might be asking a bit too much of a pre-schooler. Still, it reminded me of how much time we often spend battling things that simply can’t be changed instead of changing what can be.

A friend once told me about how mad her mother became at her father every Sunday. He wanted to watch football; she wanted to go somewhere. So every Sunday, he watched television while she muttered and groused in another room. Apparently, it never occurred to her that she could simply take the keys to the car and go somewhere herself. My friend, long an adult now, still marvels at how miserable those Sundays were and how her mother preferred being angry at her father than taking the reins of her own happiness.

Of course, it can be a hard lesson to learn. I love to sing; I would love to be able to make people happy with songs I’ve written and performed. There’s only one problem. I have a horrible voice. In fact, recently, I was helping pick out songs for a memorial service. I was singing snippets of songs by Elton John, so my friend could decide which one to include on the playlist. After three attempts, someone gently pointed out that all three songs sounded the same and none sounded remotely like anything Elton John had ever sung. Now I guess I could have spent many years attempting to sing and being the ‘joke’ contestant on American Idol, or I could accept that was not my talent and develop the talents I did have. I chose the latter path, and fewer people (including myself) have suffered.

Like the cicadas, events will appear in our lives that we can’t do much about. We don’t necessarily have to like those things, but accepting their inevitability does make their existence more bearable.