The word surrender has always seemed to carry a negative connotation. The side that surrenders in war loses. The people who surrender to another often give up themselves. But the type of surrender I’m taking about is the ability to yield to the moment instead of working against it, and in doing so, unburdening ourselves. Had I learned this lesson earlier in my life, I would have felt far less stress, grief, and consternation.
Eckhart Tolle in “The Power of Now” writes,
”Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”
For most of us, accepting the present moment can be difficult, particularly if the present moment we find ourselves in is not one of our choosing or liking. We have a tendency to want to control: our lives, our emotions, our surroundings. The simple matter of fact is that struggling against the present moment we are in – like it or not – does nothing but add anxiety to the situation.
I have struggled for years with trying to out-think and out-maneuver the moments I find myself in that I didn’t like or were not of my choosing. I have been working hard to unlearn that behavior and to learn just to surrender, to accept what is, and to act in a way that transforms the present moment – no matter what is IN the moment – from an opponent to an ally. Let me give you some examples….
I live in Colorado and have been impacted by the monumental floods that washed away lives, homes, roads, communities, infrastructures of electricity, gas and sewage. Although much less affected than many, many people, my new reality has included:
- Running/maintaining sump pumps for almost 3 weeks to prevent our home from flooding – including the “MacGyver-ed” system we put together to get the water out
- Getting up every 2-4 hours every night to make sure the pumps are working
- Dealing with what nature has to offer without the help of my husband since he is forced to live near his work Sunday – Friday because his new reality includes a commute of 2-4 hours due to the collapsed roads and bridgesLliving without my hubby Sunday – Friday
- Living in a “No Flush Zone” because the flood took out the roads which protected the utilities. The sewer lines have broken, gone missing or been compromised.
- Living with a camper potty in the bathroom and a porto potty across the street from our front door and knowing that’s what life will be until a temporary system is constructed – which will be another month and a half or so.
A few years ago, I would have wigged out, thrown my hands in the air and given up. This time around, I have learned to accept the moment and worked WITH the situation instead of struggling against it. I can’t change what is, so fighting it is an act of futility.
I accepted the present moment and all that comes with it. Tolle writes in “Stillness Speaks”,
“Surrender comes when you no longer ask ‘Why is this happening to me?’”
I could choose to wrestle with that question, and struggle against life, or accept the moment. I chose to accept the moment which frees me to act. Acceptance for me includes realizing:
- We couldn’t have changed nature
- We got a good jump on the water with the sump pumps and our MacGyver-ed system was genius
- Getting up every 2-4 hours every night makes me empathize with my sister-in-law Heather since she’s getting up with my nephew Henry
- I can handle most situations with or without my hubby (although I did have one quick meltdown – but hey – I’m human)
- Hubby and I won’t live apart for ever – it will come to an end
- The “No Flush Zone” will be temporary and a warm camper potty in the bathroom beats a cold porto potty hands down
We’re human. We want to be able to script our lives. Just because we struggle to control things that are out of our control and change reality to fit our needs doesn’t make it so. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. in “Life’s Little Treasure Book” writes,
“Our thoughts determine our responses to life. We are not victims of the world. To the extent that we control our thoughts, we control the world.”
It is in our conscious mind that we accept the present moment as if we had chosen it. If we choose to accept what is, instead of what we would like it to be, we find our lives recast from a cycle of anxiety and opposition, to a life of acceptance and surrender.
If I had been taught that taking a deep breath and accepting the present as if I had chosen it – no matter what it entailed – would lower my stress level in the moment, free up my ability to act instead of react, and give me the ability to focus more clearly, I would have jumped on the “Accept What Is” train years ago.
How do YOU do with accepting the present moment as if you had chosen it?
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It took me a LONG time to learn this one. I skipped kindergarten, graduated from high school a year early, and finished college six months early. So, I graduated from college just a few weeks before my 20th birthday and got married three months later. Still married to the guy 23+ years later, so that part worked out. But, I feel like I spent my youth rushing to what I thought would be the next great thing. I’ve learned that now is a great thing instead.
Kerith Stull recently posted…Tuesday Quick Tip #6 — Bedtime Blues
Dang, Kerith – you are quite the smarty pants! And hats off to 23 years! This was a really hard one for me to learn too. I guess I should say I’m practicing a lot and often. BTW – how is the feedback on the book draft your friends/family are reading?
Thanks for the update, Lee! You sound as though you are making the best of what must be a very frustrating and trying situation.
Whenever we lose power…which is nowhere near as difficult as what you are courageously facing…the lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s song BIG YELLOW TAXI run through my brain: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” How I miss electricity when it’s not available…and I KNOW for sure…I would really miss flushing!
As far as accepting the present moment…the song ANTICIPATION by Carly Simon came out the year I began teaching. The lyrics made so much sense to me, that I cut out large construction paper letters, and I posted the following words on the wall of my classroom: “AND STAY RIGHT HERE, ‘CAUSE THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS.” As a 22 year old 8th grade English teacher, I KNEW on some level that the present moment really mattered. Did I stay “in the present” all of the time? Certainly not. I spent lots of time “visiting” the past AND probably more often the future. BUT I KNEW there was TRUTH in those lyrics.
If I had known then what I know now, I would not have spent so much time during my young adult years thinking about how my life was going to turn out.
I thought I’d replied to your comments…apparently I’ve lost my mind so if you trip over it, please return it….
In my industry (advertising/media) we live in the future. It’s not been until the past several years that I have been able to slow down, relax, and actually accept the present moment instead of trying to twist it to my whims. It’s when we fight against change/the present moment that we experience such a sense of anxiety since we struggle instead of accept.
Thank you for sharing the songs and your stories. Thank you for your participation in middleSage!!