There are places, in the remnants of the vast forests that flourished in South-East Asia, where monkeys are hunted for food. Paw-sized holes are cut in coconuts and filled with rice or nuts before securing them to a tree. When the monkey reaches into the hollow of the coconut and grasps the food, it cannot remove its clenched fist because the opening is so small . So it stays there. Trapped. Holding onto the nuts or rice, waiting for death. Just like those monkeys in the shrinking forests, we hold on to what traps us, unwilling to let go. We hold onto our sorrow, our anger, the self-flagellating pleasures of guilt. We hold on to our need to be right. The acrimonious divorce, the family feud that force-feeds each new generation with the bitterness of hatred, the darkness of war that slices up territory, bodies, hearts – all kept ablaze by fists clenched tightly.When we are over-invested in an object, a relationship, an outcome, we clog the circuits, get overbearing, clench into fear, until chaos leaps and licks around the edges of our lives.
Crisis is a wonderful opportunity to surrender. We may have to bow our heads as we’re caught in the vortex of a crisis that pulverises our bones. As Marianne Woodman says, “In fateful crises, we may really have no choice.” The dice rolls and we have to accept things just as they are. And in defeat we accept what needs action and what requires a shift in attitude. We reconcile the irreconcilable. Honesty unblocks energy, energises the body and the mind. “Everything that occurs is not only usable and workable but it is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as the means for waking up,” says Pema Chödrön.
Surrender. From Old French, surrendre, to deliver over. To give up. To yield is to trust, to accept what is, not what should be. Yet to surrender implies we make a conscious choice.
For so many of us, the days, weeks, months and the years of our lives are cling-wrapped and placed in boxes labelled with “shoulds” and “musts”. Control freezes the life blood in our veins, stiffens our limbs, Botoxes the natural beauty of our faces. Spontaneity and playfulness are stored in the attic, with the toys of our childhood. We plan our days, pencil in meetings with our friends, and pack our weeks with activities and to-do lists.
Perhaps today, slow down to allow a driver to pull in front of you or step back to let someone go before you in a queue. Surrender to the sensual enjoyment of slowing down enough to be present as you eat a meal, sip a glass of wine, savour the sweet creaminess of an ice-cream. Surrender to the exquisite delight of orgasm, the dankness of grief, or the red balloon of laughter, the languid pleasure of an afternoon sleep. Surrender, under this heavy eye of the new moon to being fully present to touch, to taste, to the breath that breaths you. E e Cummings knew the surrender of the kiss when he wrote, “since feeling comes first, he who pays any attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you.” And Adrienne Rich knew surrender of touch when she wrote, “When we enter touch, we enter touch. Completely.” So on this day of the new moon, plant a seed of a new intention. Trust the integrity of this precious moment. Be present for yourself, for the person you’re with today. Flow with what is, to the newly minted moment…
Thank You Alanis Morissette
Photography by Tyra Nur Athirah, Catherine Whitford and Peter Kapasakis