The White Flag

I have long since believed and felt that things happen for a reason. It sounds hokey, and it sometimes feels easily falsifiable the minute sh*t hits the fan, but eventually I am far enough removed from the storm to see that even the terrible, awful, scary things happen for reasons, too. 

I tend to feel like every piece of life is intricately woven and connected, like one of those chain reaction games where you drop a ball in a bucket and the bucket slides down a pulley onto one end of a seesaw and the seesaw flips a switch and you thought you were just mailing a package but really you were learning a life lesson. (See blog: "The Amazon Return That Woke Me Up.")

In the movie Sleepless in Seattle, Meg Ryan famously sighs and says, “You make a million decisions that mean nothing, and then one day you order take-out and your whole life changes.” She’s almost all the way right. You do make a million decisions, and ordering take-out just might be the thing that changes your life, but those million decisions—they mean something. Every one of them. Each one of those million decisions brought her to that moment that changed her life.

In 10th grade, I made a decision that meant nothing at the time besides a smaller class size. I decided to take French as my foreign language elective, while literally 98% (I calculated) of my class decided to take Spanish. That decision changed everything, and I had no idea what I was doing at the time. Two years later, I found myself pursuing a French major at LSU. And twoyears into my studies, my major lead me to my best friend, who lead me to another study abroad program, which lead me to teaching, which lead me to discover my true passions. My entire life path has been a reaction of that decision. 

The best friend that changed my life and me mocking statues at Notre Dame circa 2013

What if I had chosen Spanish?

What if Meg Ryan hadn’t ordered take-out?

It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than any of us. There is some force in the universe. There must be. Call it God, Karma, the stars aligning, whatever you want, but there’s no denying there’s something bigger. When we forget this is when we become most frustrated, stressed, angry, anxious, nervous. We feel lost, helpless, out-of-control, because we feel like we should be in control. But we shouldn’t be. Because it’s bigger than us. Something else is driving the ship here, ladies and gentleman, and when we remember this—when we snap out of our frustration and desire to control, control, control—we are once again at peace, accepting that things will work themselves out as they should. 

That’s surrender. Ultimate surrender. 

Surrender is not giving up, it’s giving in to what your heart knows is true but your head can’t seem to rationalize. Life isn’t rational. We cannot always apply logic to things and figure them out. A doesn’t always lead to B, there are no “If this, then that” absolutes, and it’s all too unpredictable to say things like “always” and “never”. Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and let the universe do its thang. (Honestly, it’s gonna do it whether we surrender or not.)

Surrender is not giving up. It’s not quitting. It’s not saying, “I’m not in control so what’s the point of caring.” It’s remembering that it’s bigger than you, that there is more than you, that you couldn’t possibly know all of the chain reactions that will happen from that one decision. 

Think of the things you are constantly running up against trying to control, to change, to force a certain way… and surrender. Think of the things you are stressing about, worrying about, the things keeping you up at night and absent from moments because you can’t quite seem to figure out how they’ll turn out… and surrender. Think of the things you are white-knuckling and twisting and contorting until they fit where you want them (damnit!)… and surrender. 

Don’t stop caring. Stop fighting. 

Don’t stop pushing. Stop forcing. 

Remember that it is bigger than you.

Surrender.

Emily JordanComment