“Whatever life takes away from you, let it go.”
–Don Miguel Ruiz
Entering the fourth eerie morning of unearthly haze, the sun shines red – every color in nature tinged with grey. The fires in Oregon are close to home and the risk of living in the trees has never been quite this acute. Already entire communities along our most beautiful, clean country rivers are gone, reduced to ash. This of course has been going on for weeks and continues in California, but there is nothing like personal experience to bring you to your knees.
It has been a long time since so much of life has become so uncertain for so many. The truth of global warming and it’s present-day repercussions in uncontrollable fires, gigantic hurricanes, and an unprecedented global pandemic is not only raising our anxiety to new heights, it is also making us question deeply not only how to live, but even more acutely demanding us to create a whole new relationship to surrender.
The Bhagavad Gita (the song of God) – the Hindu holy scriptures – address the question of surrender as one of its main teachings. Krishna tells his disciples that in this life we are entitled to the work, not to the fruit of the work. In other words, our lives give us the opportunity to express what is strongest and best in us, that is the gift of living. The outcome is not ours to choose and also distracts from the work itself. While this teaching is simple, the practice is a huge challenge.
How do we offer our work without attaching ourselves to the outcome, allowing the act of doing to become its own reward? This is not unlike surfers who, for the sheer joy of it, ride into huge waves to find the moments of utter stillness inside the curl. Their whole body is enervated in presence. Their balance inside of a power so much greater than themselves is the effort and reward simultaneously. They know the risks, but they also know the aliveness that comes from giving up any idea of outcomes.
We are all faced with the increasing risk of losing the people and things that we cannot imagine letting go of. Even our ideas of who we are and where we are going, or who we thought we were are now up for grabs.
The gift of letting go of how you thought it should be is the courage of being with what is – allowing you to do the real work that the moment you are in is demanding of you. In this fire haze, the real questions of what would you take with you are happening every moment. Thinking hard about what we have left and what there is to master is all about staying embodied and riding the wave wherever it might lead.