Tuesday 21 April 2015

Sweet Surrender

In 2008 I left fiancĂ©, job, career, home, community, friends, family and my adored Mum, to head to Italy.  I had no accommodation booked, no itinerary, and no idea where the adventure, the escape, would end.  Perhaps I still don’t know?

I wrote two books about this amazing journey – the most challenging and rewarding of my life – which are yet to be published.  But I live in hope.  In fact after I publish another book in the near future – watch this space – I will return to those manuscripts with renewed vigour. 

Anyway after a few weeks on the road, with what can only be described as disorientation, fear and loneliness, I found myself one sunny morning in a town on the Mediterranean called La Spezia.  I was about to explore on train and foot the immeasurably beautiful Cinque Terre; five towns clinging to the rock-face above Mar Luguria with belligerent resilience.  With few clothes and a small day-pack, I hiked and hiked, absorbing every smell, detail and sensation until I was utterly satiated and exhausted.  (FYI my rental car with additional clothes was safely parked until my blood-pressure settled and I was ready to drive on the right-hand-side of the road again without nearly killing myself.) 

The day I really began to ‘live the dream’... to walk again in my own skin... existing deeply in the moment... with renewed optimism and levity...  was the day I munched on the world's sweetest bag of cherry tomatoes and wandered with this song on my ipod:  

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway, traveled by many, remembered by few.
Looking for something that I can believe in,
looking for something that I'd like to do with my life.

There's nothing behind me and nothing that ties me to
something that might have been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today... and I don't know what the future is holding in store,
I don't know where I'm going, 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 living, I don't need to see the end.

Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.
Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.

I was already travelling to a theme by Robert Louis Stevenson... but here, unexpectedly, was my theme in song: written and sung by a man who has left a wealth of inspiration behind him... the sentimental but extremely sensitive, talented and loving, John Denver.   How many of us can say we have moved and inspired as many people as he did in his too short a lifetime?   And how many of us will leave a comforting legacy that continues long after our death?

If you’re over thirty, frankly, you are unlikely to see “sunshine on the water” without thinking of him!

Anyway, this anecdote came back to me today with immense clarity: when I was jogging on the waterfront between Port d’Alcudia and Port de Pollença in Mallorca.  It was a busy time of day, with cars and bikes everywhere, but the sun was shining and the sea was battering the coast. Watching windsurfers jump the waves I was pondering my life and where my next choices might lead me... as if one sea-side jog was going to deliver those answers succinctly... when on my ipod, again, came Mr Denver’s inimitable song.   
Sweet, sweet surrender... 

Wow.  We are all moved by music.  It’s the international language.  We are also transported in time by it.  And that’s as it was for me today – I was simultaneously in Spain and Italy.  I was immediately comforted and challenged to ‘surrender to the moment’... to not ask for ‘answers’... or even to ‘see the end’... to see the path... but simply to live... LIVE in the moment... without fear, judgement, pre-determination, or even a map.

And so I kept jogging, jogging faster, easier, my strides longer and lighter until, before I knew it, I’d done 10 kilometres and could have kept going had the coastline allowed.  (Instead I refuelled with water and eventually made for a G&T... but that’s another story.) 

It was, anyway, one of those FANTASTIC TO BE ALIVE MOMENTS: powerful and free. And I simply must thank God and John Denver for it!   

Sometimes it’s just the little things which make your day – to see, to hear, to run.  It’s more than many will ever enjoy and I’m deeply grateful and recharged by it. 

Go on.  Give it go.

Sweet, sweet surrender, live, live without care,
like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air...

   Highly recommended: