Acceptance or Change?

A few years ago I was at a work conference. Most of the speakers had been very dry, it was nearing the end of the day and there was one speaker left. To start with I wasn’t particularly interested and now my thoughts were on heading home. This soon changed as the last speaker was incredibly inspirational and was the highlight of the day.

The last speaker was Tal Golesworthy, an engineer who had inherited Marfan syndrome.

The worst symptom of Marfan syndrome effects the aorta. The aorta is the main vessel from the heart. With Marfan syndrome the aorta stretches and enlarges over time. If it stretches too much it can lead to an aortic embolism.  This is when the aorta ruptures and normally results in death.

Tal had been diagnosed with an enlarged aorta and at the time the only option was major surgery that would involve removing the aorta and replacing it with a plastic one. The recipient would then receive anticoagulant therapy such as warfarin for the rest of their life.

This option scared him and he did not want to have this surgery and be on warfarin for the rest of his life. This was unacceptable for him!

He started to look for another solution. In engineering the simple solution if you had a pipe that was going to burst would be to externally wrap the pipe.

This, in simple terms, was his solution- wrap and support the aorta.

Using medical imaging he was able to make 3 bespoke/ personalised mesh supports.

In 24 May 2004  Tal underwent surgery to have one of these supports fitted.  It was a success. Such a success that at the time of his speech fifty people had had this procedure carried out. This new surgery is quicker, less damage occurs and there is no need for anticoagulation therapy after. The unwillingness to accept what he deemed unacceptable changed his life and improved many other peoples’ lives too. His speech left me and many others at the conference truly inspired.

Why I write about this, is because I am facing changes in my life yet the word acceptance regularly comes up for me.  Change and acceptance reminds me of the first part of the serenity prayer.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

While observing the world around me, I wonder are we willing to accept what should be changed? Are we confusing complacency and apathy with acceptance? Even worse could complacency actually be laziness? Do we lack the courage to change or do we lack the wisdom to know the difference? If so how do we get the wisdom to know the difference?

There is an expression- “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” By embracing change can we develop or grow wisdom?

Another way to look at this question is, what should we accept?

  • We need to accept that change is inevitable!

What are we unable to change?

  • We cannot change someone else!
  • We cannot change the past!

Trying to change someone else can be considered manipulation. It is up to them to decide to change. The only person we should try change is ourselves but by trying to reach our true selves we can inspire others to follow.

The past cannot be changed but through acceptance we can change how we feel about it.

Now I believe acceptance and change go hand in a hand. They are not separate. Wisdom can be achieved by embracing both acceptance and change together.

Not accepting a situation, creates resistance. Resistance prevents or limits change.

Accept what needs to change and allow the change to flow.

Mark- The Alchemist’s Journey

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