Surrender… for the Win?
Posted on September 11, 2015
Where the hell is this gonna go? Just gonna let it go. Using surrender to write about surrender – for the win!
So I had a major bike crash in a gravel race with a telling name – Gravelpocalypse. I hit rock-bottom literally, and now I’m dragging my body around, can’t ride a bike for a while. This has been a bit of a recurring thing for me this year, this crashing. No need to get into it any more. Just know that the circumstances of this crash were such that, you know, dying could have been an outcome. It made me think all kinds of things. One example: what – so now I wanna die, is that it?
Look at me. All happy and connecting.
Maybe trying to figure this out ain’t the thing. Maybe I’ll just look at it. All objective-like.
I JUST LOOKED AT IT AND OMFG FREAKY SHIT ALERT! You know what? Until my crash, I had been on a year-long winning streak. Exactly to the date. One paragraph ago I didn’t even know that! Yeah, September 7 – the date of my crash – was the date I won my first adventure triathlon in 2014. And the date I began to believe that I had what it takes to win shit. My partner in kayaking crimes (Kayoga October 3 – sign up!) Darrin Siefken had said so the night before that race. That night, I got mental game, man. I had been wrong about my limits, and it was time to step up and challenge them. (I even wrote about limit-busting in this blog a month after that.) This year, I won three more races.
Exactly one year to the date before this crash, I learned I had been wrong about my limits, and it was time to step up and challenge them. It was the day I won my first adventure triathlon.
(Ok, seriously. How am I not supposed to get all jacked here – the same fucking date! WTF? I mean – meaning, man! All right. Objective mode activate! Sigh. No fun!)
Lately, I’ve been very aware of the red flag word “figure.” If I hear myself say, “I’ma figure that out,” I know I gotta check myself. And I have learned what to do instead: I gotta feel it out. Get out of my head and into heart smarts. So, yesterday, I told my obviously superior intellect that I was sick of her. She was so sick of herself that she said, “I surrender!” It wasn’t that hard. Because at that gravel race, she had landed 12 feet below the road edge at rock-bottom, too.
So, instead of trying to figure it out, and instead of trying to feel it out (whoops), what’d I do? I played a fun game! (Come on! Things were heavy enough.) I asked my Facebook universe to tell me what The Universe was trying to tell me. Why? Because honestly, I had made some changes in my life in the last few weeks that I thought the Universe would be all high-fiving me on. I had gotten the message from my last crash, man! And I was feeling things out like a pro yogi. So why had the Universe bypassed my raised palm and hit me with a total Universe smack-down?
I love that many of those in my Facebook universe reminded me that sometimes shit happens. This is another way of saying, “It’s not all about you, dumbass!” It’s a profound lesson we keep learning our whole lives. High-five.
And I was all about the responses I was getting from my bike bro Facebook universe: what I am experiencing is a normal stage for someone who gets all-in on something and is learning just how much to challenge their limits. And by definition when you’re progressing, your limits are moving – and you’re trying to hit a moving target. Sometimes you overshoot. And since I’m all rah-rah about not limiting yourself, well, elementary, man. High-five.
(Alright, I can’t help going here – anyone else? I overshot my limits exactly one year after I learned the opposite lesson – not to underestimate my limits. WTF does this mean?!? Jump back! Objectivity check! Move on.)
But then there were messages I didn’t love. No high-five for you!
Case in point: I mean, who would suggest that I have attached my happiness to biking, coming to rely on it too much, when it exists in many places I may be ignoring. Dammit, wise preacher woman! (She really is.) (But do I have to high-five her?)
Disclaimer #20: Let’s not go into happiness lies within. I know. I also know none of us lives in a vacuum where we are unaffected by what we’re doing, where we are, who we’re with. Outside circumstances do play a part in our happiness – they have to allow us to experience it within, and some outside circumstance are truly barriers that need to be removed. The hard part: is that outside thing the barrier, or is something in us the barrier?
The hard part about happiness: is an outside thing the barrier, or is something in us the barrier?
That leads me to the hardest message of all, the one that started it all off – a text from a beloved yogi friend: “If you refuse to slow down and take inventory of what is causing you to run so hard the Universe will keep doing its best to derail your running.”
Damn barrier to happiness right there, man. That’s right, friend, keep your palm up, you ain’t gettin’ any. (You know I’m messin’, girl. I hear ya. I just don’t want to.)
And a few others in my Facebook universe had variations on this theme. “Something else needs your attention that you’ve been avoiding.” BLERGH.
So, honestly, bitches, even if I don’t do no figurin’ on this, even if I poke my objective lenses into my eyes – I don’t know what it is that needs my attention! It’s not what I thought it was after my last crash. Huh. I got nothin’.
Great job, Universe! Highly effective methods, yo!
But guess what? My super there-for-me friend Suzanne texted me yesterday that she’s “got nothin’” on a thing in her life that she’s looking for answers on. Here’s what I texted back:
“Nothin’, huh? The surrendered place is where something comes.”
Damn I’m good, aren’t I? (Disclaimer #21 : When this tapped-in shit happens, taking the “I” out is assumed.)
Seriously, we yoga teachers have this thing we believe – that when you say something that’s kind of a “WTF – where did that come from?” in class, it’s because there is someone in the room that really needed to hear it. True or not, who cares, it makes me feel good. And hell, often someone will come up after class sharing how they really connected with that WTF thing I said.
Sometimes, I’m that student. I find myself writing down something I said with an under-my-breath “holy fuck!” while students hold a really long down-dog.
And, I am that student now. Not the student holding a down-dog, can’t do that for a while. I am the student who the message is for.
Nothin’, huh? The surrendered place is where something comes.
Love, The Universe
So then, this morning, when talking about my upcoming blog to my yoga students, shit happened. I don’t mean “shit happens, shake it off!” I mean, I was talking about what happened at the gravel race, all surrendered about saying anything worthwhile, and revelatory shit happened. I told me something I needed to hear. Here’s what.
My new bike bros at the race showed me something I had known but not experienced so directly before: my biking community is an amazing, connected, supporting group that were 110% there when I needed them. Three riders – Jason, Travis, and Robert – stopped and waited ‘til I was loaded in the ambulance. An hour. Then they went on to finish 94 of their 112 gravel miles (or Jason, on the 44 mile course I was on, still had 26 left). These guys were not about winning. They were about being there, knowing somehow that this was where they were needed. Surrendering expectations of any certain finish time and just being there.
Okay, highly relevant ugly realization time! At the beginning of the race, before we even hit the official start and were on pavement, a guy right in front of me looked back, lost control, and splatted. I had no choice but to fall on top of him. I hopped right up, asked him if he was okay, and he said yeah. “Your bike?” I asked. “I think so.” And that was good enough for me. The pack was gone, the race director was hustling over to check shit out, and I was gonna try to make up some ground.
But that disoriented dude didn’t know if he was okay. He didn’t know if his bike was okay. He didn’t know jack. And I didn’t know how to surrender. I only knew how to win. Well, I knew I wasn’t going to win – gravel is a whole ‘nother game – but I was going to hit it like a competitor anyway.
What is surrender? The opposite of winning. By that I mean, it takes absolutely opposing qualities. Winning is fighting and control. You fight for it with all you got – maximized physical exertion, mental toughness, grit – and you control the outcome as much as you can – training, course previews, race day “fueling.” Surrender is giving up and being. You give up the fight, you be there. And you see what comes, you don’t fight for anything in particular to come. And you wait.
My bike bros were masters of surrender.
My bike bros were masters of surrender.
So, here’s where I’m at. What I need to take away from my crash isn’t for me to figure out, or feel out, or anything out. It is for me to give up on. Put it in higher hands. Let myself be guided toward meaning that is instead of forcing meaning that I could be right about. Like, I was actually trying to win the meaning game!
Yes, I said “higher hands.” What do I mean by that? For me, I mean both my higher Self, and The Highest Self. What do I mean by The Highest Self? A kind of interconnecting power that you can call all kinds of things – the Divine, God, The Universe. My higher Self is a part of the The Highest Self, and sometimes, my actions are aligned with it. Other times, they are not. If I’m moving a way that isn’t aligned with The High, or staying stuck in something instead of moving in a way aligned with The High, shit doesn’t really come together for me so well. Sometimes, it falls apart.
If I’m moving a way that isn’t aligned with The Highest Self, or staying stuck in something instead of moving in a way aligned with The High, shit doesn’t really come together for me so well. Sometimes, it falls apart.
Another friend of mine who has been there for me, talking about shit no one should never talk about, (read: shit everyone should talk about) told me her prayer she used at a time when she was at rock-bottom, or in her case, linoleum-kitchen-floor bottom. Here it is: “Help me. Help me. Help me.”
I have started using this at the end of my meditation practice. I think it is – wait for it – helping me!
So. I got nothin’. Thank God/The Universe/The Divine. Because I am here in the place that the real something comes out of. Something will come. And I won’t make it. I will wait for it. When my bike bros surrendered, they saw what needed their attention – me. Someone in need. The one in need in that moment. And I am so grateful.
And so I wait. Since, you know, I can’t ride my bikes and all. What else am I gonna do?