Recently, I sat down with a friend and her new baby to catch up. She’s in the midst of asking some of the big career questions like: “Do I want to go back to my job?” “Is it time to pursue the career I dream of?” and “Do I want to stay home with my new baby?
As I sat with this thoughtful woman, wondering aloud what to do and how it will all work out, I could feel her anxiety building until she said, “And I realize I just need to surrender.” It felt as though we both took this huge breath and exhaled out all her stress. She wasn’t saying she would relinquish her efforts, but relax into trusting she will find the niche where her energy can propel her forward instead of fretting.
Lao Tzu calls this being ‘in the flow’ in the Tao te Ching. You can think of it like the way a screw works. When it is placed in a hole that is too small or comes at the wrong angle, you can push and turn for a long time without getting anywhere- which is not helpful. On the other hand, if you place that same screw in a hole that is too big, it slides right in, but offers no real support. When a screw catches the threads just right though, all your efforts move it forward into place. With moderate effort, maximum progress and solid support are produced.
Surrender- not giving up, is being present in the here and now. Recognize the opportunities and options right in front of you. Acknowledge when you feel you are “in the flow” and move with the current.
I think life is rarely easy. However, when we stop pushing painfully hard against our natural path and allow our process to unfold, it is in that unfolding we experience the sweet surrender to being in the flow. Like swimming with the current, we can go so much farther than attempting to compete with the riptide. So be present, take a breath, and work with the flow of your life’s current.