Ten Things To Happily Surrender To, Part I

By Monday, August 25, 2014 6 0

Mainstream culture whispers to us that we are always supposed to win. Or it shouts this to us, with images of material riches, youth and the high-powered careers that finance material riches and the appearance, at least, of youth.

But when we’re rich in what matters, we surrender more than we win. Health and vitality, connection to nature,  financial solvency, spirituality, loving relationships, work we love and life-purpose . . . . my experience is that surrender, not self-will, takes us to these riches.

Here are the first five best things to surrender to, in no particular order.

The impulse to dance.  I know in the marrow of my bones that dancing is good for us — our bodies, our spirits, our everything. So does the troubled but spirited heroine of my novel Revelle.

We tend to make dancing way too complicated. It’s not about looking cool or sexy in front of anybody. It’s about dropping down out of our heads (where mainstream culture tells us to live), being inside our bodies, and letting our instincts and emotions move us. Next time you feel like dancing, surrender to it. Alone at home is a great place to start, similar to the shower being the place to develop your singing chops.

Aging. I still struggle with the fact of my aging (I’m 53). But I’ve surrendered a lot more since last year’s infamous events. I’ve come to believe that our (largely media-driven) desire to stay young is actually a desire to stay healthy and vital. And we can cultivate health and vitality at any age. The happiest people I know are the ones who are aging with gusto. The saddest people I know are the ones who fiercely resist the fact they are getting older.

Climate change, as in, surrender to the fact that climate change is happening, not to a fatalistic notion that nothing can be done about it. Our U.S. culture’s denial of climate change is just like the people on the Titanic rearranging the deck chairs as the ship was sinking. The more we surrender to the unpleasant truth of climate change, the more resilient we can become in the face of it. The more rigidly we deny and avoid it, the less resilient we will be, and the harder we will make life for future generations.

Your appetite for real food. The media tells us to consume alcohol, pop, junk food, and everything else that turns companies the largest possible profit. And the media is loud. But when we disconnect from advertisements and listen to our bodies, they whisper things to us like, “I’d like an orange, please. And maybe that savory pasta dish you made last month.” Here are my tastiest, simplest menus of real food.

 I’ll be honest: I’m sipping basil-infused vodka with ginger ale as I write this on Sunday evening. And my summer has involved quite a bit of ice cream (though not the dreaded Haagen Dazs stupor, thankfully). But dinner will be green salad and tempeh/tomato sandwiches. Surrender to good things happens on a continuum, it seems to me. See the next item for the best way to keep moving along the continuum.

The people who challenge you. Some people in our lives go out of their way to help others, even people they don’t personally know. Or they ask us about that New Years resolution we set months ago to find a better job, or to read books that improve our minds, or to get to church once a month. And they don’t necessarily buy into our excuses for why we’re taking the path of least resistance. Instead, they encourage us to actually implement our good intentions.

Or, the people who challenge us may not say anything directly, but the example they set inspires us. They are raising the bar simply through who they are.  In my life, some of the people who challenge me are Thor Hinckley, Linda Kusse-Wolfe, Dana Whitson and Colleen Kaleda. They help me to live a good story. They help me chase a diamond-cut life.

 Receive Part II of this series (and weekly posts on how to be rich in what matters):

I will never share or sell your email address.

  • Dana Whitson
    August 25, 2014

    While I concur with most of your blog, I do respectfully disagree on much of a media roll in what I eat and drink. I suppose you may really be referring to advertising. I eat/drink what I do based on what I like, not on any commercials per say. I could stand to eat/drink a lot healthier. Any improvements I’ve made are often as a result of media coverage.

    • Alison
      August 26, 2014

      Dana, you make a good point, that we sometimes are positively influenced by the media. More power to you on the eating/drinking improvements you’ve made as a result of media coverage.

      I do think it’s rarely as simple as we see a commercial for an item and then rush out and buy it. I think it’s more like we’re swimming in millions of images of beer, convenience foods, fast cars, and youthful airbrushed bodies without a trace of cellulite. And so all of those things become normal in our eyes when they are not intrinsically normal, they’re just profitable. Most of the world most of the time is about water, food that needs some preparation, walking for transportation — or at most older cars and buses that aren’t fast — and not-young bodies that do feature some cellulite but are still lovely in their own way.

      I think these down-to-earth realities are good for us to surrender to.

      Thanks for challenging my thinking. You’re good at that.

  • Michael Fortune
    August 26, 2014

    On an appetite for real food:
    I chose to eat as a vegan one year ago (this means no dairy, eggs, nor meats). I had desires to eat ice cream, just as you do. I admit two things made it easier for me to forgo the ice cream: one, my teeth are very sensitive to cold, and two, they are sensitive to high levels of sugar in my mouth. Despite all this, the attraction to creamy, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth sensations pulled me toward ice cream.

    It took about three months to get over the desire for ice cream, and at the same time, I cut way down on sugar and sweeteners in general. Having LOTS of fruit around helped a lot. Now I can honestly say that I am not attracted to sweets except in the form of fruit.

    • Alison
      August 28, 2014

      Michael, I respect your success on this. Way to go!

  • Colleen
    August 26, 2014

    Thanks, Alison — honored to be someone whom you consider a challenger. :) There is a T.S. Eliot quote that I have on my desktop that reminds me how truly life-affirming challenges can be.

    “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” -T.S. Eliot

    I don’t interpret this to mean that one should be constantly mired in challenges. But I’ve found that, even when I’m at my wit’s end facing something tough, I’d still rather *not* be walking along a path of least-resistance. Such a path creates no change, no positive growth, and I’ll posit — not a whole lot of life-satisfaction, either.

    I still have a lot of work to do. I’ll admit, some days, the path of least resistance is not only preferable, but necessary. There are plenty of personal challenges that I need to re-invigorate … maybe I’ll ask you to ask me how I’m doing on them, for a push. :)

    • Alison
      August 28, 2014

      Colleen, I agree that we can’t take on hard, challenging paths every single day — we would burn out. We have to choose carefully which challenges to take on. It’s paradoxical that our challenges and our surrenders can be the same things. Yes, I would love to support you on a challenge (surrender) on which you’d like to be “pushed”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *