There is nothing like houseguests descending upon you to force one into a state of surrender. Last week we anticipated the arrival of my beau’s business associate who now visits bi-annually for 2-3 days. She’s a lovely woman who adores coming to our home and unwinding after one of her corporate retreats. My beau, being a born and bred native of Marin County, takes delight in touring her around the Bay Area, beginning with a pickup at SFO and stretching out to the sampling of oysters in Point Reyes.This past visit also included the last minute fly-in of her daughter. So now we had a party of two to entertain. Now, I love to open our home to visitors and entertain them. I enjoy transforming my home office into the guest room and offering nice touches like candles and fresh flowers to make them feel welcome. I enjoy planning and shopping for the menus of the dinners we’ll share outside with good wine and conversation. I truly cherish those moments…..but…..for some reason these visits from this particular guest come during the weekdays, our workdays. And ordinarily, taking the time off poses no issues. Yet this round was a tad bit tedious for both my beau and I. He had projects to complete and was in the midst of planning a shoot for one of his clients. I’ve been diligently working on my book and a new corporate wellness program, both of which I’ve imposed a deadline for January 2014. Being self-employed, we’ve put ourselves under the gun and the most valuable commodity in our household at the moment is time!
On the first two days of their visit, my beau and I tagged-teamed it. He toured them around during the day which allowed me to get some work done and prepare dinners in the evening. The last full day of their visit I got the pressure. “You must come with us today!” our guest declared. She was right. Yet I cringed at the idea of being stuck in a car on winding backroads, seeing places I’ve seen a gazillion times, and losing valuable work time. Afterall, we’re right smack in the middle of creating and innovating new products for our respective businesses…how can we possibly take time to ramble off for an entire Thursday?? I hiked that morning, stealing away 45min of solitude to ground and expand my heart and mind. Sitting on a hill, my eyes wandered up to see a lone hawk as it coasted the thermals and rose farther upwards into the sky seeming to disappear through a portal to heaven. “You must come with us today!” rang in my ears again and at that moment I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and surrendered.
Surrendering to our own resistance is a powerful practice. Resistance automatically constricts our muscles, our minds and the energy pathways. Our daily lives have become so fast-paced, packing our days with to-dos, thinking that the next day will be better, the next day will offer more breathing room. But it never does! We are so addicted to filling our time that we’ve become out of touch with the quality of non-doing, that quiet, juicy nebulous, which actually fuels our creative right brains.
A recent Fast Company article quotes Janet Choi of iDoneThis, “It’s easy, even enticing, to neglect the importance of filling our time with meaning, thinking instead that we’ll be content with merely filling our time. We self-impose these measures of self-worth by looking at quantity instead of quality of activity.”
Surrender is simply a pause, an opportunity to take a few steps back and open our periphery to a higher vantage.
Surrender comes in the form of a yoga pose, breathing into that spot, allowing it to soften. It comes in that point of meditation when, if only for a minute, there is no thought. It comes in the form of a phone call with an old friend. It comes with a glass of wine at the end of a long day. It comes with abandoning everything to read the last chapter of that novel on a Saturday. It comes with a hug after an argument. It comes with a thank you, a please, a compliment. Surrender comes when we take the time to feel our emotions, whatever they are, without judgement or squabble. And surrender comes with prayer. It opens us to our own gentleness and capacity of who we truly are.
So when I heard our guest’s words, “You must come with us today!”, I took a cue from the lone hawk surrendering to the rings of thermals towards that higher vantage point. Bundling into the car, we drove to places I actually hadn’t seen, spent time connecting with two lovely ladies and my beau and had lunch overlooking the sparkling bay. We ended (appropriately) walking through the gardens at Green Gulch Zen Center and out to Muir Beach. With each step, the deadlines fell away. Each wave lapping up to our toes receded away with another layer of tension. As I watched the joy fill our guests’ faces, I became reminded of my real mission. To live balance and teach balance. And how can we possibly balance if we lack the surrender to play with finding our footing?
Our guests departed early the next morning. I departed from my normal morning routine and simply sat on the deck, gazing out at the mountain. As the tea pot whistled I padded into the kitchen and dropped the Yogi Tea bag into my mug. Attached to the tea bag was a message which read, “Inspiring others towards happiness brings you happiness.” Indeed and paying it forward!