Many many years ago, I came upon a book which spoke of surrendering. This piqued my interest because it was not the ethos of my life. One confronts and overcomes. One takes charge and directs. One chooses to persevere and wins. One does not surrender nor allow oneself to be overpowered. This remains the way of life for many I know, even now.
Ever curious, I bought the book and attempted to understand. But to no avail.
Years passed, and my understanding of surrender has changed. Sitting cross-legged to meditate this morning, the softening and vulnerability that come with open palms facing skywards reminds me that I have the ability to only control what I think, what I feel, what I do. All else is beyond this mere mortal. It reminds me that I am a part of, and not separate from, this phenomenon called Life.
In those intervening years, I have learnt many lessons – of the pointlessness of confrontation to change another, where taking charge only reinforced the status quo because I had not changed, and that dogged persevering and winning still left a gaping hole in my life.
My futile attempts to control everything that happened to me felt like, and imagine this: the curling of your body and hugging your knees tightly against your chest, the clasping and clenching of your hands, shallow and rapid breathing, with eyes darting everywhere for signs of danger, together all at once. It was the holding myself against this unseen other; always there is another to confront, often foes to defeat or overcome.
Open palms up to receive and accept what Life presents is the act of surrendering; it is not an easy stance. Many mornings the temptation to grasp my knees as I meditate remains. The conscious decision which follows, this choice, is to turn over my open palms to face up.
Those years ago I had perceived “surrender” through the lens of myself as either master or slave to my environment or the circumstances; through the arrogance of mind where I pit myself against another. I judged difference and sought to triumph. This perception was through the binary lens of separation – them and us, win or lose, right or wrong; and invariably that one must prevail over the other.
I have since realised that we are more alike than we care to acknowledge. Now I understand many things are beyond my control, and I have no desire to take charge of everything. My “winning” is over myself, that I am a better person today than I was yesterday.
There is a felt sense that I am a part of this Life which is more immense than I can fathom – that while I strive in matters within my control, I can and ought to “allow” those things larger than I to happen as they do, to flow on by as and when they would. To them I surrender my unnecessary thoughts, expectations, desires and wants.
Instead I delight in what I can, however I can. I understand what I can change and take steps to do so; I accept the lessons Life presents me. I surrender the rest.
Each day I choose, to live my life open palms up.
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