Is Acceptance The Answer?

The thunderstorms had passed, the breeze was balmy and we had fifth row seats behind right field and Brennan Boesch, my Tiger (he plays right field). It promised to be the perfect evening for a baseball game–until the young guy in front of me began taunting a player from the opposing team warming up near the stands. The game hadn’t even started and his derision, conspicuous above the hum of people milling around, was out of place and annoying.

I glared at the back of his head hoping he would feel the heat and shut up (it works with my kids sometimes). In the end, a beer and his girlfriend distracted him. He put his arm around her and a tattoo, trailing down the length of his forearm, jumped out at me: Acceptance Is The Answer.

I admit my first thought was very condescending, “Ha. What a hypocrite.” This obnoxious guy was telling the world acceptance is the answer. I knew his type. He would be the first in line to complain vociferously about others he disagreed with.

The game was slow the first few innings, and I found myself pondering his arm: Acceptance Is The Answer. It could mean so many things. Was he aware of the many implications of the motto permanently etched into his skin? I wanted to lean over and ask him what he meant, but it didn’t seem an appropriate question for a baseball game. He probably would’ve made a scathing, condescending reply anyway.

I thought exploring the possibilities inherent in that phrase might make an interesting blog post. I wrote, then pondered, then rewrote, but I wasn’t happy with the path the post was taking. I decided to look around on the internet for a photo of the tattoo.

Thank God I did. It prevented me from addressing a subject of which I was totally ignorant. At the same time, it enlightened me. I learned that it is a phrase known by many and often quoted:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation–some fact of my life–unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it was supposed to be at this moment.
Alcoholics Anonymous (or The Big Book)

Suddenly I had a new respect for the guy at the game. This quote meant so much to him, he literally made it a part of himself, not hidden, but in the open as a testament, confession and exhortation for the world to see. I thought I had him all figured out. I’m ashamed of my arrogance. It seems I need to learn over and over again my impression of a person is not the reality of who they are or what they’ve been through.


6 comments on “Is Acceptance The Answer?

  1. It’s hard to know why he had that beautiful sentiment tattoed on his arm but actions speak louder than words and his words were at varience with his actions . Without your speaking to him it’s very hard to know what prompted him to etch that on himself


  2. Yes, that’s true, but the point is that there is more to him than I gave him credit for. Everyone has more to them than that one dimensional first impression.
    Thanks for the comment.


  3. Dawne,
    I think you are right. It is good to remember that often, our own perception is not the reality.


  4. What a lovely post. We all do this sometimes, misjudge other people. You’d think as writers we’d remember not to “judge a book,” but we’re only human. Kudos to you for realizing what it really meant and for admitting you might’ve been wrong about him. That takes a lot of courage and humility. 😉


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