I memorized Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata when I was 10 years old. My mother had an old yellowed plaque with a copy of it applied in decoupage. I decided that was my truth – my code. There were parts of it I didn’t understand, but the parts I did understand resonated so deeply that I had faith I would understand when I needed to.
The phrase “gracefully surrendering the things of youth” always kinda stung a little. In my world, it was survive or survive, surrendering meant defeat – and in a child’s mind defeat was death. I just skipped over it emotionally – as I did parts of the Apostle’s Creed in church. I accepted that I was a sort of “special case” and what applied to others probably didn’t apply to me.
I’ve told my story in bits and pieces – and I know most know I’ve been grieving my late husband since Feb 19, 2009. Today, I understand what gracefully surrendering means. It’s not letting go or giving up – that implies there’s still loss. When you surrender, you neither let go or hold on, you simply let everything return to stasis – to balance. I surrender my salty tears for use elsewhere in my body where they can better serve. I surrender my hostile takeover of my heart and mind so they can return to nurturing my body – so I can nurture myself.
Surrendering doesn’t mean I’m healed – it just means I’m going to quit picking at the wounds. My body knows how to heal itself if I relax and let it. Surrendering mostly just means to be quiet. Stop. Just stop. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Stop controlling. Just stop.
And in my head pops the story I like to tell about butter on a cat’s paws. It’s an old story in my family that when you take a cat to a new house, the first thing you do is put a huge dab of soft butter on each of it’s paws. It will immediately sit down and begin to clean it’s paws. Grooming is how cats self calm, so the cat will become absorbed with grooming – and slowly relax into the environment.
Surrender is what the cat does when you put the butter on it’s paws.