My Mom and Stepdad have decided to move, and there’s a big downsize as part of that move. When we gathered on Easter, lots of stuff got distributed. I walked away with a mishmash of things including a box of CDs. On my way back to their house this past Friday to help clean out the cellar, I popped in one of them, John Denver’s Back Home Again. This album played a big part in my musical childhood. As my kids watched Percy Jackson and the whatever whatever whatever in the back (with headphones) I sang childhood John Denver songs at the top of my lungs. Both “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Grandma’s Feather Bed” are on that particular album and I chuckled to myself as I remembered his appearance on The Muppets singing those songs. If I’ve lost you completely because you are too young for any of this, you might want to plug the feather bed song into YouTube. I remember that Muppets appearance being pretty awesome.
At any rate, what I hadn’t remembered was another song, Sweet Surrender. “SWEET, SWEET SURRENDER. LIVE, LIVE WITHOUT CARE. LIKE A FISH IN THE WATER. LIKE A BIRD IN…” “Mom, that’s REALLY loud.” Right, sorry, volume adjustment. Now, I don’t honestly know whether or not fish and birds are actually without care as they move through the world, but I get the point about being in the moment, being who you are, flowing, singing as you go to help your Mom pack up her house: “SWEET, SWEET SURRENDER. LIVE, LIVE WITHOUT CARE…” “MOM!!” Right. Not quite without care. It was not nearly as satisfying at lower volume. Surrender with twins is sometimes more challenging than surrender when I am by myself in the car.
Multitasking does happen in the car and I do not wish for a moment to diminish the threat of distracted driving. For ME, the car is sort of unique in that I cannot opt out of giving nearly full attention to the task at hand. I can sing at the same time, or listen to NPR, maybe even talk to a friend, but I can’t read articles on the web, talk to scads of people on Facebook, go through the stack of papers sitting on my side table – all things I might choose to do WHILE watching TV or having a conversation with a live person in my home. “SWEET, SWEET SURRENDER. LIVE, LIVE WITHOUT CARE….” Yeah, not quite. I don’t do it often enough. I don’t surrender. I don’t just attend to what’s in front of me. I don’t JUST have the conversation (well, at least not all the time). I definitely don’t just watch something (too antsy), nor do I attend to the antsy. If it’s not good enough to surrender, maybe it’s not good enough (i.e. most of the stuff on TV); if I’m too antsy to watch a movie, maybe I need something different, something that will allow me to surrender, stop holding myself back, stop dividing my energy and diminishing myself, my impact, my level of relaxation.
And what is all of that about, anyway, all of that distraction; all of that busyness, all of that activity? Is it ants in my pants? Is it too much to do? Is it a deeper philosophical problem of not being able to accept uncertainty long enough to let go of the constant stream of information available to us? For me, I suspect all three of those things, but they mostly boil down to the big one: avoiding feelings, ideas, or working to prove or be something that seems important for some reason I can’t identify. None of it is about me being here now. None of it is about love and connection.
And so I will allow the replay that is my brain’s habit when encountering a song that strikes a chord (the shit plays ALL the time) to remind me that surrender is possible, that it is both goal and relief, that I have a role to play in getting there, and that:
Something that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open, right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today, and I don’t know
I don’t know where I’m goin’ I’m not sure where I’ve been
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
My life is worth the livin’, I don’t need to see the end