wind midwifes the angel wings
to shower us in roses seeds
~ Lubomira Kourteva
Today I just finished writing the manuscript for my second poetry book (drum roll please!) which will be published January 2021. It’s been quite the ride and often times I felt like the photo above; as in floating, not “writing”. Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that the majority of the book process is some form of staring (or daydreaming). We just never know what will emerge and where it will lead us, no matter how much we plan it. We have to get used to trusting and not knowing. Our unconscious will delicately guide us in certain directions and though we haven’t installed the sun yet – we just follow it blindfolded, and always always in some mysterious way, for some mysterious reason, threads begin to form patterns, rivers plaid when moss is cold, and suddenly all begin to take substance, coming into its being. This is something to be grateful for because it is quite sad to then see nothing in the offing. After the book is created we are left with emptiness wondering, now what? What will we do next? We’ve devoted our everything and surrendered our everything for the moments prior, but now what? It’s a scary feeling too. That’s how I felt last year after publishing my first book. And here I am today, with my second book – which I had no idea that I’ll write and that I’ll be completely smitten and in love with. You just never know.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
~ Constantine Cavafy, “Ithaca”
A Shaman once said: True power has the ability to do nothing. It took me awhile to understand the essence of this. To talk about surrender, we need to understand control, resistance and trust.
Sam Taylor-Johnson, “Gracefully Suspended”
We all as human beings like to control things because this is what gives us comfort in understanding this uncertain thing called life. But people who have issues with control, i.e. become controlling, is usually because they hold a lot of fear and have experiences of feeling powerless which they haven’t yet healed. As a self-preservation technique, they grow up desiring to control the environment, so to provide themselves safety. The underlying cause is usually lack of trust. It is important to understand the unique deeper reason for wanting or needing to “control” something, so that we are more aware of how to tackle the root of our why. And there could be different reasons in different situations. For example, imagine a child living in a household where his parents fight constantly and/or are emotionally unstable and/or don’t accept the child’s emotions. This causes the child to suppress its own emotions and true self, so to create some stability in the environment. As an adult, he continues to replay this narrative and has trouble reaching deep true intimacy with a partner; because intimacy is about vulnerability, which is about letting go and opening up. And there can’t be true love without vulnerability and without acceptance. Many people feel shame because of what might have happened to them in the past and why they are the way they are – this is why it is important to remind oneself that your need for control was usually born out of necessity for self-preservation. Just as important it is to understand – that this is no longer needed, and if you truly want to experience yourself differently, you always can by awareness, acceptance, effort, compassion, tenderness, willingness and the right supportive environment.
Surrender = Acceptance of what is + Faith in oneself and life
Faith is patience waiting for trust. Trust is trusting ourselves and life; that this is a friendly universe that will support us; that life will somehow always find a way to channel through the right people on our path to support us. This is something we learn with age perhaps. And with patience. And with truly noticing. Go back in time and remember how many times things just worked out. They worked out because of you; because of the incredible amount of resourcefulness and strength that you showed even when you thought you had none left. We have to remember who we are. This is internal power.
Now, when we talk about control, we are ultimately talking about dominance. Dominance is the state of external power or authority, and it is my belief that dominance is always coupled with a deep (possibly unconscious) desire for submission, for surrender and for being held in the attention of another person. To be witnessed there, to be guided there in a safe space where one can release their vulnerability, and to be led to an experience that transcends boundaries, restrictions – into the mystical, spiritual and the deeply emotionally bonding. This is how people connect: when we let go.
Sam Taylor-Johnson, “Gracefully Suspended”
The first time I learned surrender is when I danced; something I’ve done since I was a little girl, long before I knew how to write. Dancing was my first falling in surrendered love. Some people learn it through floating in the waves or standing in the rain with open palms.
When the current catches us just right, is how we learn surrender.
The truth is – if you’ve ever been truly in love, you’ve already experienced surrender. Because something overtakes us and we just let go into that moment. For example, sex is a biological surrender. In the moment of orgasm, the ego “dies”, also known as la petite-mort, because we’ve truly let go. Surrender means to be open, afraid and vulnerable. It means to allow another into your sacred space, to truly see you. This is intimacy, into-me-see. We let go of our armors, we allow someone close to us, we are not resisting, not holding back – because we are just flowing, trusting, relaxing, not “thinking” of the future, etcetera. Through sex, surrender requires not much effort. People with control issues have fear of intimacy and also, develop unhealthy habits, such as sexual addictions, because they overcompensate their unbalanced energy with sex. However – they would rarely experience real bliss and self-fulfillment. Because true intimacy is emotional and spiritual, and requires us to be consciously opening up and being vulnerable – and this requires effort and willingness.
In deep love, lovers have always felt like they could even die at that moment. Think of all epic stories and poetry written throughout the history of humanity. “I’ve died to myself and I live for you,” only means that we’ve let go of our ego, perceptions and boundaries of self – so that we can merge and be completely true and seen by love.
Prayer is surrender. Love is surrender. Prayer is love. Eroticism is surrender. Mysticism is surrender. The ancient mystics described eroticism as aliveness, vibracy, vitality and ecstasy. It is a transgressive force negating the “known” to break the boundaries of reality and take us outside of the limitations of life. In a way, eroticism is the antidote to death. Just like prayer is our life line in our needed times, when we fall to our knees and let go, and let God. There is deep trust. And when there is deep trust, there is surrender. And in surrender is deep gratitude and deep appreciation. It’s a graceful suspencion.
What tantra philosophy teaches is the importance of staying in the middle, free from extremes: no repressions and no indulgence. If we think about it: both control and resistance are repression of self and distrust of self. The middle path means: acceptance of totality of life, which means we and spirit is one. For example, if we deny something, we are essentially moving to its extreme opposite. We need to have the humility to accept that we don’t know it all; that there is a force much larger and stronger, which has its own timing and energy. As other people have their own free wills. As we too will be okay, whether or not we resist, things will always align. The philosophy of tantra is not about “sex” – it is about a state of deep let go. It teaches oneness; that we as life are one; that life’s flow is our flow. And in this, we allow life to move through us, to mould us into what we were always meant to be. And what we always were anyway. It is about deep acceptance – which is What True Love Really is.
Surrender is passive, but there is nothing wrong with passivity. It is only our ego which thinks passive is “bad” because our insecurities creep up saying “we’re not enough” so we become dependent on always doing something. Receptivity is passive. Receptivity is the yin energy, the feminine energy, the creation energy. Many things are birthed during “passivity”, during meditation, during surrender. Love is born. Intimacy is born. Connection is born. Truth is born. Awareness is born. Poetry is born. It’s conception; of something forming beneath the shroud of skin; beneath the souls of our feet, when one day, tempted by water, tempted by air, it will reach its hands through the soil, for merging. In the uncertainty, in the insecurity, in the doubt, in the black negative yin energy, is the surrender. When we surrender, we become vulnerable to existence itself; and only then, the whole existence takes us into its arms.
And so dear reader, wherever you are is okay, is where you need to be. Relax and allow life to move through your body, to lead you and to mould you into yourself. Our egos don’t like not knowing – because this is how we comfort ourselves and this is needed too. I am not some new-agey person who will sit there preaching how “ego is bad” because it isn’t. Our ego is needed and purposeful because without it, we wouldn’t survive here on this Earth being human. What I do believe though is that what we resist – persists. And that we are the masters of our mind, not vice versa. There is no need to fight ourselves, through others or through life. And I think one of the most important things to remember about surrender is that we will make mistakes, many many mistakes. We’ll be foolish, afraid, weak, helpless, but that’s what creativity is. That’s what living is. Life breathes through us, and it experiences itself through us in a way it otherwise could not have. As such, every breath is needed. And you know what – it’s hard to let go of control, it’s hard for everyone. We’re all human and we all struggle with it in our own unique ways. But in the times when you need to, remember what surrender feels like. Maybe it feels like the first boy you kissed. I remember being so nervous but then had butterflies for days and couldn’t stop smiling. At that time I was pretty sure that’s how heaven felt. Find what gives you joy, true joy, and surrender yourself in that moment. Not the idea of it, not the goal of it, not the hope for it; just it. Bow to it, flow to it, say thank you thank you thank you, and let yourself dance gracefully, wholebodily and wholeheartedly.
In love + trust,
All photography by the amazing Sam Taylor-Johnson.
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