I am sitting with my eyes closed in a school hall in Dublin. Forty people I met only yesterday surround me. John Denver strums over the sound system and we are encouraged to sing along.
This is the 80’s.
This is personal development.
“Sweet, sweet surrender. Live, live without care. Like a fish in the ocean. Like a bird in the air.”
After 36 hours of emotional peeling I am kittenish and sappy. Tears flop down my face as I cry-sing along to what I think is the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard in my life man! What have I been so afraid of, so worried about?
In that glowy moment it is so clear that the universe is benevolent and just wants me to be happy and will take care of me, if only I will surrender, sweetly. I kicked open the doors of the training room and went out into the world to surrender my ass off.
Of course, it didn’t go well. My subconscious got involved. It wasn’t pretty. I did outrageous things convinced I was surrendering to the flow of the universe. When I didn’t know what to do I would say, “the universe will give me a sign,” and then I would wait for some random event that seemed to point towards whatever it was I wanted to do in the first place.
I would charge towards impending disaster telling anyone who would listen, “If it’s meant to be, it will happen.” I am sure there were people on the sidelines muttering, “If it’s meant to be, it’ll be a fucking miracle.” but I didn’t hear them.
Eventually I figured out what was going on. Not because I am clever but because I knocked the stupid out of me by repeatedly banging my head against my wall of kidding myself.
Benevolent universe? Impersonal more like.
“I looked for refuge in nature as many spiritual teachings used nature as an example of divinity in action. The birds of the field, the lotus blossom and so on. It didn’t help. When I looked into nature it seemed cruel and violent. Everything was eating everything else. Cute little furry creatures were gobbled up with shocking detachment. Disneyland it wasn’t. Nothing was safe,” from my book Maya Noise.
One day the universe will kill me, like it kills everything else. John Denver’s fish and the bird probably got gobbled up by a bigger fish and a bigger bird minutes after the song ended.
The universe, or life, or God, or whatever you like to call it, probably sees a bigger picture that I can’t. Whether I live or die is probably part of some grand impersonal design, but I don’t know about that. I just know what I want and unlike the universe, I am very personal. What I want may not matter to the grand design but it fucking matters to me. And it is supposed to.
It is the all-is-one and one-is-all, model of existence. The fractal, holographic universe where the whole of life is contained within me and I am a tiny part of the whole of life. What I want, life wants, right? I make my best guess knowing full well I haven’t a clue. That is what I surrender to, the not knowing. What I attempt might work out or not.
Goals? Visualisation? Affirmations? Forget it.
I haven’t a clue.
It could all end badly.
Morbid cynicism then? No, but not because it will influence my future. It just feels bad. Being happy and optimistic feels good now and now is the only thing I know for certain.
So now more retreats, group hugs, hand holding with strangers, and old man God with the white beard up in heaven taking a personal interest in every hair on my head.
And instead a bit more surrendering to the dark mystery of life, the not knowing, the having a go even though it could end badly, the joy for joy’s sake.