UN-SEEING: Mastering Surrender

UN-SEEING: Mastering Surrender

So, I’m sitting there grousing about how dizzy I’m making myself trying to get a handle on the paradoxical concept of “Surrender”.

The Light of My Life does his Mysterious Mystic grin and tells me, “Surrender is the seed of beginning to see that you are the source of your world.  IF YOU ARE FIGHTING AGAINST YOURSELF, YOU LOSE.

My jaw dropped.

He retells one of my favorite stories, about the time when he was a youngster living in a palapa on the beach for a few months at Playa de los Muertos in Puerto Vallarta before it became a tourist destination.

Every morning he would wade out waist-deep into the surf and pretend that he was a conductor “directing” the waves of an ocean-turned-orchestra.  He spent a lot of time getting his moves right.

He watched the way the water moved and began to see how the waves would form.  He watched the way the winds and the currents pushed them this way and that.  He assiduously worked at matching his arm-waving movements and hand signals to the wave action.

I imagine that if someone was on the beach watching him when he got good at predicting how the waves would form and the way they would move, it would look like he was a baby Leonard Bernstein out there playing with the ocean.

It occurred to me then that, in his later life when he became an artist many years after this episode, the skill he developed during his play-time came in handy.

Mat Westcott, the Light of My Life, is an artist/artisan, working in an art-form that he developed himself.  Here’s a lousy snapshot of a work in progress….

“Work in Progress” by Netta

He uses natural fibers – in this case, banana “bark” cut away from the trunks of banana trees, then dried and manipulated to make the water and the sky bits of the collage as well as dried stems of ‘ape (elephant ear) to make the land masses and rocks.  Mat’s surfer and sailor fans love his ocean pieces.  They say the things immediately carry them away, back to the sea.

You can see why he talks about building worlds.  It’s what he does in his life.


When I was poem-mining, going through my digitized archives of more than 20 years of poems looking for more poems to feature in this thing, I was struck by the thought that trying to figure out how to “surrender” (and why and when and to what) is a major thread of a theme running through my work.

I have always been an attack-the-problem, full-speed ahead sort of person.  I figure you can’t deal with something if you don’t face it, right?

It won’t go away if you don’t DO something, right?

“No Surrender” is my go-to mantra.  (I used to have the t-shirt, even.)

Most of the time it works.  If I am dogged-y enough, I can usually gnaw the thing down to a nubbin.  Then, it’s one more chomp and GONE.

However, there are times when that one just doesn’t work

“Never Surrender” by Julian Fernandes via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
So, what do you do when you cannot DO anything any more?  What if you are brain-dead from trying to deal with some irascible, chronic problem that just won’t get smaller and won’t go away?

“Little Jhonny wants to play” by Rajesh Pamnani via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Some of my Dude and Dudette friends say, “Chill out, babe.  It’s all good.”

Their idea of “letting go” is something along the line of that “52-Pickup” prank of our youth.  You throw a deck of cards up in the air and let them fall where they may.

Somebody else has to pick them up.

“Surrender” by Seth Mazow via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]
That’s good for a recharge.  It’s good for a breather.  It’s lousy as a lifestyle.

New-Agers and other Spirit-enthusiasts in all their different flavors say, “Surrender to the Cosmos and/or the Oneness,” or “Let go and let God,” and all that.

“Surrender” by Alice Popkorn via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
And THAT is just plain…SCARY – especially for a recovering Control Freak like me.

Mathew’s take on the whole thing is making a lot of sense to me.

“Life Renewed” by Guy Courtemache via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]


Surrender can be the first step to making something new.  Surrender can be a way to see underlying patterns of behavior and can serve as a strategy for learning how a situation or a person moves.

Surrender is a different way of seeing.

Those things work for me.

The following video, “Strength in surrender – onstage and in life” was published in 2014 by TEDxTalks and features improv actor John Lewis Lambert giving a speech at the TEDxSanAntonio.

The six-minute video breaks open your heart.

When he gave the talk, Lambert was an active improvisation performer since 2006.  He was the father of twin boys, aged eleven then.

In the video he tells us, “Uncertainty makes us human,” and “Life is improv.”  He tells us that there are times when we have to accept that “Life will not always work out on our behalf.”

He tells us, “All that we have in life can be summed up in two ways:  We have each other and then we have the darkness and insecurity of the Void.”

And the guy is right.

The coolest thing to hear during the times when your nose is pressed up against the hard wall of “not-going-to-happen” is the best assurance that we can give to each other: “I’ve got your back.”

It lets us get on with using Surrender in a way that turns it into a Sun Tzu move — another martial arts technique to add to your repertoire of problem-solving life-hacks as you work your way through whatever problem you are facing.


Cheri Huber is an American meditation teacher in the Sōtō school of the Zen Buddhism tradition.  In 1987 she founded the Zen Monastery Peace Center near Murphys, California where she’s conducted many retreats and workshops.

In 1997 she founded Living Compassion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to peace and service.

Huber has also written more than twenty books.  One of my favorites is her book, WHEN YOU’RE FALLING DIVE:  Acceptance, Freedom and Possibility, which was published in 2003.

To my mind, at least, Huber’s concept of “acceptance” is a close match to Mathew’s concept of “surrender”.  She says that acceptance means embracing, owning and expanding beyond one’s closely held and defended personal limitations.

She says the attitude to adopt when taking this stance is one of, “If it exists in my world, it is mine.”

That, too, resonates with Mathew’s own thoughts.  If all the world you see is yours, then when you fight against what-is, you are fighting your own self.  Hmmm….

If you can move into the present with the willingness to see and embrace everything that arises, Huber tells us, you can figure out how to make the changes that you want and need to make.  You can figure out how to move to match the way the flow is going.  If things are not as you would like them to be, then allowing them to be what they are means you let go of resisting what-is.

And that, she says, is the first step to changing things.

When you let go of resisting your world,” Huber assures you, “you no longer suffer.”

All the tensions and stresses fall away.  The anger and the frustration evaporates.  You are no longer in panic mode.  And you can see again.

It’s not that we gain the power to change circumstances,” Huber admonishes.  “We develop the skills to determine our experiences of those circumstances.”

“Touch” by brando via Flickr [CC BY-2.0]
And there it is, yet again.

[Note to Control-Freak Me:  What happens to you is not what matters; you cannot control that.  What you CAN control are your responses to whatever happens.]


Thanks for putting up with my spazzing.

As a special treat, I’d like to share this YouTube video, “The Paradox of Awakening,” published by SAND (Science and Nonduality) from their 2018 conference.  Thousands of people from around the world have attended these annual conferences that bring together scientists, mystics and seekers.

In the video, best-selling author, international speaker and life coach David Ellzey gives a (non-verbal) performance that pretty much delineates what life is like for a Seeker.  It has its funny moments.


Here’s a poem:


The way is easy, they tell me,

But there’s a lot they do not say:

How easy is mostly an empty feeling

That will sit inside of you and stay.


You see a thing and you start walking.

That’s easy, don’t you know?

But easy can feel like lonely:

A small, small boat in a very big flow.


There is no need to rush-rush-rush

And nothing you have to do.

There’s nothing here to push you,

Just the nothing inside of you…


And the nothing is hard to grasp sometimes.

It is bigger than you can hold.

And to wait for the how to ripen

Can mean shivering in the cold.


Easy can be hard to take

When you don’t know how.

Easy’s always hard to fake

‘Cause easy is only now.

By Netta Kanoho

Header photo credit:  “rain catchment” by Tim Szlachetka via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts.

12 thoughts on “UN-SEEING: Mastering Surrender

  1. Wow very insightful article. At first I thought I was going to read an article full of poems. Then I started reading through it. I like it very much. You give your readers a lot to think about when they are reading though this article. 

    I do not look that hard into my life and maybe I should a little more. I am like the you who said you was a control freak. I can’t just let go of the not being able to control the things around me. No matter how hard I try. 

    I have been learning that If I can control the way I react to the situations I am in then I will be better able to control myself. 

    The poem at the end was a very nice poem. I love poems I write a lot of poems myself. I would love to read more of your articles. Thank you 

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Jason.  I do appreciate it.  It is a truth:  the only things you can really control are yourself and your actions and reactions.  (I know — RATS!)

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again.

  2. Something for surrendering, surrendering, surrendering……
    I know I had something around here somewhere….
    Ahh here it is!

    After you’ve lived your life full of confusion, strife, flights, and chaos. So now you want to settle down and find harmony and peace? Who’s going to clean up all the messes that were made in this world wide party?

    Enter the spiritual janitor. Welcome to my world. One day floor pillows to a meditation center in Kansas. Next day hermetic candles to a birthing center in Seattle. Let’s not forget the scented yoga mats to California.

    Oh yeah surrender become one with the universe. But would it kill any of you transcendental harmonizers to pick up all the things you’ve dropped before you started This emotional cleansing? The hate, the hurt, the ruined lives? even if it’s just some of the leftover rappers from the bad and toxic food that you used to guzzle.

    Sure you’re being a better version of you. Sure this is going to be great for you. Sure it’s open for anyone to try. But while you’re doing all that somebody has to keep this place clean and running for the next transcendental phase.

    We’ll see how harmoniously surrendered all of you are when I go on vacation and no one’s here to do all the work while you’re at balance with the universe!
    ~ Janitor of the end of existence.

    1. Hey, James: Thanks for the visit and for the riff. Hee! Love it!

      Please come again!

  3. Surrender can be a very tricky thing to master, as it often requires acceptance of perceived obstacles to your goals. It helps to remember that everything is happening as it should. 

    Thanks for sharing your insight and favorite musings on the subject of surrender. Mastering this challenge is likely to be a lifelong pursuit for most of us!

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I like your insight that “everything is happening as it should”…or, maybe, it’s more like everything is happening the way it’s happening.  Knowing that one thing means you can get on with figuring out what you’re going to do about it, I guess.

      As you say, it probably is going to be a lifelong pursuit, this.

      Please do come again….

  4. Surrendering is not as easy as it seems.  How I would love for stress and tension to just fall away.

    I thought I walked into a poem but I got so much more than that. Thank you for sharing this with us, and for giving us options.  I just can’t wait to read the book. 

    I am a control freak myself, so I learned a valuable lesson today.

    1. Johnny, for us control freaks, it is most important to learn what we can control and what we cannot.  I’m pleased the post resonated with you.

      Please do come again.

  5. Great post with some great imagery.  I absolutely love the conducting of the oceans that your man described.  His artwork is also fantastic. Would you be willing to post some pictures of his final work in this article? Would love to see how it turns out.  

    Like you, I struggle with the idea of surrendering. My first real brush with the idea of surrendering was in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The idea of surrendering to the idea that I was an addict never sat right with me.  I am also a control freak so it was a hard notion to swallow. 

    Luckily, I overcame my issues using a different route, more formulated with control.  However, I see many overcoming their issues using this idea of surrendering so there is validity to it.  

    I like what you said about being able to control your response to what happens to you, as you cannot always control what happens to you.  That is completely valid and a great way of looking at all of this.  

    Ultimately, we are here for a short period on this earth, and dwelling on the things that are out of our hands just won’t do anything to serve us.

    Your writing has a great tone to it and I respect any writer that can get his or her readers to analyze their inner selves,  

    1. Ashley, your thoughts make me smile.  Thank you.

      Please do come again.

  6. Demi Foster says:

    This article draws insights from the author’s life and experiences, as well as references to relevant books and speakers who have discussed similar themes.

    My question is: How have you personally experienced the concept of surrender in your life? Have there been moments when letting go of resistance and embracing what is, as discussed in the article, led to positive changes or personal growth?

    1. Demi, surrender — actually accepting the way things are — is the basic building block for making changes.  Everybody has experienced/resisted surrender.  It’s a human thing, I think. 

      Some surrenders lead to evolution and development, change and growth.  Other surrenders mean just walking away and starting over, which also has the same effect.

      This makes me wonder:  Have you never experienced surrender your own self?  I bet you could think of a few surrenders of your own and work on how surrendering (or resisting it) helped or not.  

      Please do come again.

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