learning to surrender

On my hands and knees, pressing into my yoga mat, my muscles tense, my mind whirring. Unable to find space, unable to find what feels good. Begrudgingly, I swing my right leg up and back, then forward, laying it across my mat like a blockade, pressing my protesting hips into pigeon pose, one of my favorites, one of my biggest challenges.

The pose pulls through many parts of me. At first, the protestations of my tight hips only get louder as I focus in on them, attempt to bend them to my will, gritting my teeth and demanding they do as I say. Forgetting to breathe. Forgetting to find softness. Finding only frustration and pain.

Slowly, though, I remind myself of why I am here. Why I have come to my mat today. Slowly, my focus is pulled back to the center of my being, the quietude at the heart of me: my breath. As I begin to blur into the rise of inhalation, the fall of exhalation, my hips begin to loosen on their own, melting further and further into the mat, until, gradually and all at once, I find myself resting with my arms on the ground, my forehead on my arms, my hips open, in a pose of recline and supplication.

Surrender is hard for me. Like many people, I want to be in control of as much as possible, as often as possible. I want to take action and know that it will manifest the exact results that I want it to manifest.

I don’t have to tell you that life doesn’t work that way. I’m sure you already know. I’m sure you can think of many occasions when your well-laid plans splintered into pieces only to be reassembled in an image you didn’t recognize. I could never have anticipated the exact route that my life has taken. It certainly wasn’t the route that I planned.

But I do so love to try. I do so love to obsess over the future and how to make it exactly the way I want it. Despite the fact that every plan I have ever made has derailed in some way, big or small. Despite the fact that this way of thinking causes nothing but deep and desperate anxiety.

*

I would have been 34 weeks pregnant if I hadn’t lost my first baby. Or 27 weeks, if I hadn’t lost my second.

I’ve mostly come to terms with that. But sometimes, I am overcome with a tired, half-hearted rage that makes me demand, “How the fuck is this fair? Tell me how.”

It’s not, of course. Fairness has nothing to do with it at all. The universe never promised to be fair.

Still, I get angry with it. I want to know why it’s punishing me (it’s not). I want to know what I did to deserve this (probably nothing). I want to know what I can do to bend the universe to my will to get what I want (I can’t).

I’ve mostly come to terms with my miscarriages, but still, they hurt. Still, I imagine what it would be like to be 27 or 34 weeks pregnant. To be big and uncomfortable like I never was. To know if it was a boy or a girl, to have seen its little black and white alien ultrasound face.

It hurts, but I think about it.

And then, like a fool, I think about what I can do to make sure the universe never screws me like that again.

*

I do not know what the future holds. I cannot know. Right now, I’m planning on returning to school in the fall, postponing my entrance into the ranks of motherhood for a few years.

I mean, that’s the plan. Who knows what the universe will blow my way, though? Who knows how the plan will shift?

Plan. Surrender. Plan. Surrender.

Rinse and repeat.

And so I return to my yoga practice for guidance. Guidance on the best way to surrender to the universe and stop trying to force myself into the shape I think I should be: thinner, more accomplished, more educated, better dressed, richer. A mother. Whatever.

I’m breathing in and breathing out. I am surrendering to the will and the timing of the universe. I do what I can, and the rest is not up to me. I do what I can, then I open my fists and let the universe do with my efforts what it pleases.

learning to surrender