The Feeling of Surrender
My life changed the very moment I threw myself sideways into the South China Sea.
Though, this statement is not quite as dramatic as I’m making out. To my deep-water phobic brain, however, it was easily one of the scariest things I’ve done in recent times. Yes, I appreciate that it’s a real growth thing to step into a fear you face and give it a go. For me, on this occasion, this challenge was tearing up that old growth manual and looking Mother Nature defiantly in the eye.
You see, I’m rather terrified of deep water and the scary things that my imagination tells me are lurking underneath. Picture big teeth. That moment, or more correctly, in the short space after I rescued myself from the murky depths, panting, intact and unscathed, I sat briefly with the discovery that I’d been holding on. Holding on way too tightly to everything in my life. This realisation surprised me somewhat. How could I have been holding on when, in recent months, I considered that at last, I’d given up everything that was no longer serving me, alcohol, meat, sugar, judgment, trinket shopping… and the list goes on.
I thought I was totally nailing that desired “clean living” look. More than that, I considered myself to be well-versed and rehearsed in my totally non-biased approach to all matters spiritual. Dare I say it, I thought I was almost verging on the positively righteous end of the spirituality spectrum.
It was puzzling me then, that given my goodness levels were at an all-time high, why I still felt that I lacked the clarity and peace I was seeking.
After all, wasn’t it obvious that I was doing all the “right” things with my life? Strangely though I had been feeling agitated, like there was something off, something still missing. Okay, I hadn’t yet given up coffee. And, of course, living the vegan lifestyle was still on my earnest “must have” list. But, those matters were still a sincere work in progress, and surely not the reason for the cloud in my otherwise reasonably sunny outlook.
I will now confess that I had been asking the universe to show me the real meaning of surrender, despite my smug self-assurance that I thought I understood the concept. So, in its usual inimitable style, the universe greets me with the somewhat paradoxical desire to learn to ride a stand-up paddleboard. Yes, I scratched my head in wonder at this one too. I am not the poster child for your average water baby. This urge would not go away, so I logically concluded that my next holiday anywhere, featuring warm water, would be the ideal place to fulfill this quest.
So off I go.
Singapore. Water, at 29 lovely degrees centigrade of warmth. All the ingredients at the ready to learn this new skill. After much-perplexed thought on how to negotiate the steering wheel of this floating postage stamp, I finally gather enough courage to stand up. Whoo Hooo! Did it! I’m on top of the world!
Those dizzying heights plummeted at the precise moment my trusted instructor demonstrated with ease how I must now launch myself sideways, right off my newly found haven and into the depths of hell.
Okay, exaggeration accepted.
But you do need to understand that this maneuver took all my courage. I closed my eyes, because it really helps when you can’t see what’s about to kill you, and then obediently followed orders.
Held in the arms of the ocean I floated gently to the surface, board reassuringly insight being safely attached to my ankle region. The rest is history. As I said, once back on the board, a wave of relief overcame me (pardon the pun). That feeling of being at the mercy of the sea, despite being initially terrifying, was one of the most liberating moments I can remember. Encompassed in its warmth, the all-powerful ocean could have resulted in my untimely demise. But in trusting it, I floated to safety. Right where I should be.
Now, this may sound all a bit odd to you, but I related this to what total surrender should feel like.
Floating along with whatever is going on, knowing that you are always going to end up right where you should be at any moment. This experience taught me that I was still holding on. Even though I was trying to be the best version of me I could be, I was still imposing external standards upon myself. I have learned that in truly letting go, your truest and most natural self, easily floats to the surface.
Letting go is literally that. Let go. Of everything. Of how many likes you get on Facebook, all the way to how you might meet the perfect life partner. Everything.
It’s true, that when you let go, things flow a whole lot better. You have no control over what’s going to happen, so as they say in the classics (or in some other noteworthy source) “resistance is futile”. Give up the struggle. Now, about the coffee.
Well, a girl’s got to have some naughty pleasures, so I’ll surrender to my unrequited love for it, just for now… and rest assured, it is organic!