On September 11, 2001 I was running late. I was living in New Jersey and commuted to the World Trade Center every day for work. That day, I wanted to run an errand in lower Manhattan before work, but it was just one of those mornings…nothing worked out.
Cursing around the house while trying to get my shit together and out the door, I saw the planes hit on TV. A few people called me to see if I was OK.
I was confused, even considered going into work anyway. Those who have ever lived in NYC may understand this. Mayhem is a daily occurrence, and at that time I had no context for the severity of what was happening.
As it turned out, my late morning was a gift. I was spared the horror and agony of being downtown that day. I was allowed to stay in my cozy home across the river, in safety. (Although, I recall feeling far from safe.)
There are many people who have stories similar to mine on 9/11. They happen every day. Ever see the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow? It explains the phenomenon of how different a woman’s life can become by simply making the train. (or not making the train)
Sometimes these events spare us, and we feel grateful. Other times, we feel guilty. Making or missing an opportunity has elicited a wide range of emotions from fear to joy to gratitude to terror.
So what is there to do? How can we control fate better? Or…
Maybe it’s time to stop attempting to control anything.
Yes, we have choices. Yes, we have intention. Yes, each of our lives can impact an outcome. But what our world is lacking is trust. Trusting each other, trusting ourselves, trusting whatever is bigger than all of us – and trusting that not only will things be OK…they may in fact be perfect.
I used to believe that was a cop-out, a failure to try sufficiently. And during that time, life was hard and sad and anxiety driven. Now I trust because I have to. It’s just too painful to do it the old way.
So I surrender.
What if losing that job was the exact life event you needed to finally manifest your true work? What if losing that love relationship which broke your heart open, was only allowing you to love deeper because of the crack? What if not getting picked to speak at that conference was just a way of giving you more time to get the download on your bigger message? What if losing that person or pet you loved so deeply, was perfect too? (albeit beyond our comprehension…)
I fought bad guys and bad things for a long time after my friend Shannon was murdered. I took on a big issue, and made a significant dent. I was an activist and still am. I have never given up telling people about my friend, or working to end violence against women.
Yet in the same moment, I surrender to the fact it is happening now, despite my efforts – and the efforts of so many others. Two years ago I went through an awesome program called Hoffman Institute, where I learned the difference between submitting and surrendering. With surrender there is trust that someone or something more powerful than you knows better. Submitting is just throwing in the towel and playing the victim.
What does life look and feel like on the other side of trusting all that happens is by design? It’s not easy, especially on days like these when remembering all the lives lost feels like the farthest thing from perfection. It’s way easier to get pissed off and try to control what we can’t control…
Give surrender a shot. Play with it. It just might serve you.