Background: Accepting What Seems Unacceptable: on a recent trip to Mongolia (after an 11 hour flight from Vancouver to Seoul, an eight hour layover, and a four hour flight to the capital city, Ulaanbaatar), after our dawn arrival, our family group assumed we might have a day to rest and recover.  Not so!  After a traditional Mongolian breakfast (another topic altogether!), we were treated to a spectacular and fascinating display of Mongolian traditional apparel, music, animals, practices, making of foods, the typical Gers in which the nomads live. Then a rest, you say?  No, again.  We boarded our two Russian vans, incredible UAZs, with our friendly, experienced drivers, for the first of what were to be numerous off-road experiences into the hinterlands of the incredible Mongolian landscape.

Details: When we first turned off the “highway“ (which itself was rough and bumpy, and full of potholes and rough construction detours), I saw ahead of us braided dirt tracks, with bright red earth peeking out from the green steppe landscape, and I thought, How amazing, how does the driver know which road to choose? (That too is another topic!)  

Seconds into the off-road experience, the four of us passengers in the van began to tip and lurch and roll, and I grabbed for the handle above the door.  I thought, Well, this is incredible, this can’t go on, this is preposterous, way too rough — surely it will smooth out before long.  No, again! 

Deepening: After about 35 or 40 minutes of experiencing, This is too much, this isn’t what I signed up for, this can’t be happening!  We arrived at the Hustai National Park. Whew!  We had an enjoyable and informative time, learning about Mongolia’s bone fide Przewalski wild horses.  The suggestion then came from Tovuu, our guide, that we drive on a bit to see if we can actually see some of them.  Well, OK.  We’re this far, let’s do that.  And sure enough, we did see some wild horses… at quite some distance.  Then Tovuu, a wonderful fellow with a great sense of humor and a deep sense of Mongolian history and traditions, suggested he was pretty sure we could see some horses up closer if we were to drive on a bit. I thought, Oh no, really, more of this rattling, bone and brain shattering  lurching?  Tovuu didn’t actually ask a question; we just took off, and sure enough, we saw some more wild horses, up closer. It was quite lovely and I thought, OK now heading back home for some rest, a shower, supper, and a quiet evening. 

Insight: It was about 6pm by now, and dinner was supposed to be at 8. Well, Tovuu suggested that if we went on just a bit further, we might see the wild horses even closer. I groaned internally, and thought, NO, NO, NO!  Well, about this time, I began to realize this is all totally beyond my control, and  resisting, rejecting, moaning and complaining is not only not helping, it’s creating considerable distress and discomfort, mentally and emotionally, in addition to physically.  (Of course this is not the first time I struggled with resistance, danced with judgment, experienced inner conflict… See below for some additional takes on these topics that I hope you might find relevant.)

Accepting the unacceptable

 Shift: Finally I began accepting the unacceptable! The third leg of our journey into the National Park, to see wild horses closely (which we did indeed: we climbed up to within a stone’s throw of several of these incredible, beautiful, historic animals),  I began to settle in, to relax, and could perceptibly feel the shift.  

Gifts: Numerous positives came of of all this. I realized that as I held and braced myself, I was doing some serious upper body strength work :-), and that bouncing around on the seat could actually be kind of fun if I stopped thinking it shouldn’t be that way.  This was the beginning of hours and hours and hours of off-road adventures over the next two weeks — glorious landscapes, meandering rivers, camels, yaks, nomads — and they came to be full of wonder, awe, delight, heart and eye-opening experiences…not horror and resistance, which they were at the beginning. Accepting what seemed like the unacceptable made all the difference. 

Resources: Here are a few other essays on these topics: Acceptance, Enthusiasm, Enjoyment: A Trio to Try; Acceptance Changes Everything; Saying Yes Is Simple, Not Easy, to name a few.

What’s your experience regarding resistance and acceptance. I’d love to hear. We’re in this together!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback, forwards, tweets, likes are most welcome! 🙂

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