Surrender, acceptance, change.
These are difficult concepts for so many of us. Just saying the word surrender aloud makes my heart start to flutter and beat a little harder. It makes me feel like I might hyperventilate. It’s something I struggle with, constantly.
Why is that? It’s a beautiful concept – to surrender, to let go, to go with the flow. Say it to yourself and feel it. Surrender. Can you feel it? It’s like softening, letting go, dropping into something … easier and then being lifted by it (if you can just get past the hyperventilating).
This past week or so, I’ve been surrendering, I think. Or something like it.
Sometimes things just seem to come to me unbidden. A thought appears – “I might do this” I think, a thing I’ve thought before and always, always rejected. No no no no no.
Then the thought appears again and there it is – acceptance. It feels right. Just… right. I don’t need to write a for-and-against argument, or go through all the buts and what-ifs and the I-can’t-becauses.
Now, all of a sudden, I surrender to the thought. And accept it.
There’s a beautiful story in the Mahabharata, the ancient Sanskrit epic, about Draupadi, a queen. Whether you believe in God, Buddha, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or nothing at all, it’s a beautiful story about how surrendering can save you.
The story goes that Draupadi was a woman famed for her beauty, virtue and generosity, as well as her strength. Her husband (well, one of them, she had five – need strength, much?), bet everything he owned, including Draupadi, in a game of dice against his enemies. He lost, of course.
To humiliate her, the men who had won her started to strip her of her sari, as a prelude to rape. As they pulled at her sari, she beseeched them to stop. She pleaded to her five husbands to help her. She begged the emperor, the prime minister and the priests who were in attendance. No-one came to her aid.
She cried out in fear, and nothing happened. She cried out in desperate need, and nothing happened.
Finally she let go of the sari that was covering her and raised her arms and eyes to heaven. She let go. She surrendered. And then her sari became endless, an endless piece of cloth wrapped around her body. The men pulled at the sari, and Draupadi kept spinning, round and round as they pulled, but remaining covered.
She let go of being in control. She surrendered unconditionally.
This story always makes me cry, because surrendering is so, so hard.
You can fight, and hold on, and be rigid, and cling to your old way of doing things. And sometimes that works. But sometimes you need to give up all that, and just let go. Surrender.
Oh yes, it’s hard.
This week I downloaded a song that wasn’t in my collection, because for some reason it jumped into my head and I thought, must download that. I’ve secretly loved this song for ages. I only ever knew one version, and since I don’t generally listen to commercial radio I don’t hear it very often. It’s “Landslide” by the Dixie Chicks. I love it. I just never knew it was actually a Fleetwood Mac song. Don’t judge me!
But it’s occurred to me that it’s kind of an apt song for right now. I’m not thinking about love and a relationship, but it’s about change…
“Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well, I’ve been afraid of changing…”
To change you’ve got to surrender something, let something go.
Coincidence? Well, who knows?
(Late edit – Honorable mention needs to go to Ben Lee too for this song about surrender, called…Surrender)
*That’s a line from Rumi.