My dear pal, Debbie, passed along this birthday ritual. On your birthday, you choose one word to be your focus for the coming year. Once, I chose the word “sparkle” – just the thought of it made me happy. This year, my word arrived unbidden with cat-like stealth and sure-footed certainty. It pounced into my psyche and claimed its space.

Immediately, I knew this was my word for my 60th year.
This year, I have chosen “surrender.”

Ah … lovely, lovely surrender -- at its finest – is complete and total. There is no equivocation; there are no half measures; and most assuredly, there are no expectations. You allow yourself to free fall entirely – without snarky comments under your breath about the ups and downs of life. There is no snarling, spitting, or spewing. There is no roar of your own voice screaming in your ear. Instead, there is a Mona Lisa smile of acceptance as you jump willingly and open-eyed into the unknown. This surrender is an active choice; it is a mindful submersion into the deep waters of “I don’t know.”
The “I don’t knows” are a scary, untethered set of phenomena. Cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien talks about the need to know as a kind of addiction -- the unquenchable drive to know all the information and feel on top of all the facts. Arrien has a good point. Knowledge is power; and information, too, is another kind of power. They both can provide ways to feel safe and in control. They minimize surprises and can provide a means of self-protection. The one who knows is often in the cat bird seat.

Arrien allows that the antidote for this need to know is trust. Trust, there’s a tricky five-letter word. Trust means to allow, let go and give up the control stick. And trust – for me – says all is in divine order, there is goodness and “god-ness” in everyone, even when it is not apparent to my 3D eyes.

It has taken a number of decades and a concomitant journey of consciousness for me to learn that things don’t have to be “just so” and I need not be the holder of all answers. My locus of control has shifted from the exterior world to my interior world. I am open to mystery and have seen, firsthand, that events can unfold in a far better way than the one I had planned or imagined.

That said, I am aware that my soul had raised its hand, as if hailing a cab, and called forth surrender to race me to my next destination spot on my spiritual adventure. But before surrender came to a screeching halt at my feet, I was pushed into the depths of my quietude after a long bout of inner crankiness where nothing felt right. I dropped like a stone into the silent swirl and found myself floating. There was a new – and unexpected – freedom here. I simply allowed myself to be held in the grace of the great cosmic channel. This felt pretty good. Maybe I could get used to this in-the-moment acceptance of all that is.

So, during my 60th year, my focus will be on the big “S” of surrender – another leap of faith into the deeper unknown. Who knows, the pay-off may well be greater peace and a Mona Lisa smile.

is the simple but profound
wisdom of yielding to
rather than opposing
the flow of life.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Author's Bio: 

Adele Ryan McDowell, Ph.D., is the author of Balancing Act: Reflections, Meditations, and Coping Strategies for Today’s Fast-Paced Whirl and a contributing author to the best-selling anthology, 2012: Creating Your Own Shift. You can learn more about Adele and her thinking