As trite as it sounds, that really is the question.
And damn the muse for waking me at midnight with an idea I can’t not write. But not really. As Allen Ginsburg says, “When the muse comes to your bedside, don’t tell her you’ll fuck her later.” So keep it coming, baby.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about surrender. And I all of a sudden realized that I’ve been mistaking surrender for submission.
Surrender is presence. Submission is an escape.
I’m not sure I’m ready to say that one is better than the other, but they are not to be confused.
It manifests often with food, especially eating while not hungry, or uncontrollable binges. Many times food is an escape. Escape from some version of reality that is not what you want it to be. Maybe you hate your job, but you feel financially trapped. Maybe your parents are deteriorating, and you are watching them forget their names and require diapers. Maybe your friend is dying a slow, painful death of cancer. Maybe you’re not having enough sex, or you feel undesirable.
In the few minutes it takes for you to eat something pleasurable, all that goes away. Your job doesn’t exist. Your parents are not in your mind, and therefore they are probably fine. Your friend is healthy. You’re not thinking of the problem, and therefore it doesn’t exist.
But when the food is done, what comes next?
And that is where submission can fail. A mindless escape seems so necessary in the moment, but when the moment is over, reality is waiting. And the only tool you have is to not be. To not exist in that moment. To go somewhere enjoyable, usually with food.
Instead of submitting, surrender. Be there with what you’re feeling. With reality.
Toni Bentley writes,
Bliss, I learned…, is an experience of eternity in a moment of real time…. But pushing past that fear, by passing through it, literally, ah the joy that lies on the other side of convention. The peace that is past the pain. Going past the pain is key. Once absorbed, it is neutralized and allows for transformation. Pleasure alone is a mere temporary indulgence, a subtle distraction, an anesthetization while on the path to something higher, deeper, lower. Eternity lies far, far beyond pleasure. And beyond pain.
It’s not a release of power or sovereignty. It’s more of a relaxation of boundaries. A softening. Maybe some cooperation with reality and the flow of the universe. You may already know what you’ve been trying to suppress, trying to keep bottled up. You may not. Either way, relax your belly, relax your body, and see what comes up.
And you can do this with food. I think eating is a microcosm for what’s going on in your life. Do you let yourself be nourished? Do you view food as an enemy? As you eat, keep breathing, and see what comes up. Invite it to the table. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to like it, just stop fighting it.