Striving & Surrendering

Earlier in June I had a nice wandering call with a colleague. It was catching up with each other in friendship. It was also sense-making together, as it always is. There is an inherent leaning to mystery that I so appreciate with this colleague. There was no particular destination, output, or conclusion that we needed to arrive at. And yet, in the freedom to not need any of that, there was abundant harvest together. As we referenced it, there were plenty of plums and peaches on those trees of our wandering together (like in this photo from a few years ago of my back yard peach tree).

One part of our conversation was sharing of our experiences with striving and surrendering. Striving tends to feel like it’s got direction, like it is movement to a particular intention. Striving tends to feel, for me, like accomplishment, like commitment to goals, like destination. I have plenty of striver in me, albeit quite changed in shape over the years. Striving energy in my teens, twenties, and thirties often had more imposing energy. Come hell or high water, get it done.

Surrendering, for me tends to feel less directed, like it is movement more akin to flow. Surrender tends to feel like giving myself to much bigger, and perhaps vague, organizing forces. There have been times when I felt this was God or some kind of spirit. More generally now, surrender is to something less dogmatic. Flow with life itself. Or surrender to the unknown. It sounds passive. It’s not for me. It’s actually quite deliberate as practice.

My colleague and I both shared our ongoing appreciation for both of these qualities, and the wisdom inherent in knowing that there are times when surrender is exactly what is needed. Yet also, times when striving is what is needed or is what helps with a group. The key point however, I’d suggest, is discernment. Knowing that both of these are important, and lending courage and clarity through these respective energies — well that is the kind of stuff that can really grow a deep humanity in groups of people and help that group to contribute / accomplish a bit more of what its gifts are with each other and with the larger world.

So here’s to the insight and honesty and commitment and discernment for any of us, giving ourselves fully to both the strive and the surrender, and with some grace, being able to nuance the difference and the similarity. And here’s to friends and colleagues that help us to see the peaches and plums

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