Sweet Surrender?



Have you ever had a moment of true surrender when you just let go and found yourself in free flow? Me? Not so much.

I’m what some might consider “scrappy.” A lot like a fish (called Wanda) that insists on swimming upstream, against the current.

I have a dream. It struck me in a moment on a gondola gliding down a misty canal at midnight in Venice exactly 17 years ago this month. It is to be a (wildly popular, prolific and prosperous) traveling writer, investigating planet earth and telling tales that inspire and entertain the world, one reader at a time. In spite of innumerable obstacles, hurdles, roadblocks, and detours, it has not left me since, and is the burning force (or bane?) of my existence.

In February, I thought I’d hit my last nerve when a dear-to-my-heart book project I’d been working on for 10 months–and was on the cusp of launching–fell through in an unexpected turn of events. I wanted to surrender sweetly, but instead found myself awash in a void of bitter and desolate defeat.

I’ve read about 1000 psychology/self-help/spirituality books and in many, the topic of surrender is discussed or dissected. Intellectually, I understand the paradox of letting go leading to the possibility of something even better to enter. Emotionally, all I can envision is a loser with a white flag in one hand and the other twisted behind one’s back yelling, “uncle! I give!”

No way José.

This week, I learned that my last nerve was buried even deeper still. I’m in a business course for entrepreneurs and last week, our guest speaker was a woman specializing in risk management. It royally pissed me off when she kept reiterating a (clearly favorite) mantra she’d boldly posted on the whiteboard: “Murphy’s Law – if it can go wrong, it will. Count on it.”

I mean, I’ve had more things go wrong than I ever care to recap and it’s not where I want to place my focus. Onward and upward, right?

After this week’s class while I was working on homework, my computer began to act erratically and I noted that it had been slow in recent weeks. I grabbed my external drive to back up (something I’d not done in 5 months) and right then and there, my beloved Mac crashed. Completely. Pre-back-up.

I attempted serenity until my appointment at the Genius Bar the next afternoon. My eyes began to cross as the young tech delicately delivered the news that there was a 90+% chance that the hard drive had bit the dust and that there was a 50/50 chance of recovering the data. Tears filled my eyes and I maneuvered my way out of the mall.

It is in a moment like this that I am grateful I do not have a significant other to hold witness. Amidst the worst financial drought of my life–never mind the strain of the expense–5 months of my prized data; school projects with extensive business planning, a new website, a new blog and all of my recent writing, not backed up.

Was this my finest hour? I’ll give you just a tiny visual glimpse. Watch this Jim Carey clip in Ace Ventura when he visits the psych ward. Instead of “he seems to have some difficulty letting go of the game” insert, “she seems to have some difficulty letting go of her writing.”

Add a lot of tears. And a hell of a lot of howling.

Now you’ve got the picture. (My mother can attest to it.)

I highly doubt Steve Jobs is up for canonization, but in a flurry of prayers to all manner of divine beings, I even called upon Jobs to assist in the data retrieval.

I had to pull out my antiquated, nearly dead baby Mac that is so painfully slow and overloaded, I had flashbacks of emailing from Cuba on computers from the ‘80s. Not only am I awaiting the verdict in a suspended animation stupor, I am forced to give up my usual routine and am writing this and all other work by putting pen to paper.

Sweet surrender? Not exactly. But an interesting thing happened last night at 1:00 a.m. I was in a reverie about the stress and strain of life over the past umpteen years as I was coming in from a late movie and for the first time in 17 years, I allowed the idea to trickle into my psyche that maybe I should consider giving up on my writing dreams. Maybe in spite of my white-hot passion for an extraordinary life, divinity had different plans.

I opened my email and discovered an invitation from William, a new friend visiting Canada from China. His friend, a woman working in the travel genre department of a large publishing house in Beijing, was in Calgary and was interested in meeting with me about The Cuban Chronicles.

Tonight I met with her, William, and another translator to discuss the possibilities. It was a thorough and serious discussion about the intricate nuances of translating, publishing, and auditioning (to the government) a foreign book in China. She left with book in hand and a promise to review it, and if finding it unsuitable, to pass it along to other publishers for review.

It’s a colossal long shot, but as in Monty Python’s search for the Holy Grail, not dead yet.

Above: a brilliant allegory. Me (the not dead yet dude), the malevolent universe of my imagination (the carrier), and my ego (the bastard with the club).

Oh yeah … the dénouement? After getting the good news that Apple had recovered my data, I learned upon pick-up that the tech had made an error and while creating two files of my data, had deleted the wrong file–my new hard drive’s copy.

My original techie promised he would personally get the hard drive out of storage and reload the new one again. With the double drama in the rear view mirror, I drove off to the mountains for a solo sanity restoration day as prescribed by my two school coaches.

My blog is a day late due to the crash, but I now have my precious Mac in my possession with all of my data.

And Steve, if you had anything to do with the recovery, thank you.


© Wanda St.Hilaire

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8 Responses to Sweet Surrender?

  1. Kaushik says:

    I recently read about someone who lives without the concept of money or possessions or obligatory barter. It’s quite interesting, and he says it’s no big deal, as most of the universe except for the small fringe of the human mind lives freely without money. There are only two things which have made him question his choice–mosquitoes and tooth ache. I would say the third is losing un-backed-up writing, hehe.

    I don’t which is the worst. I’ve lost valuable writing twice; it’s painful, but right now I’m suffering from a tooth ache, over a weekend with no dentists available, and making all sorts of deals with the devil. 🙂

    Great writing, fun and inspiring!


    • wanda says:

      Ouch! Find some clove oil. That may help.

      In this society, I’m having an extremely hard time with the concept of no money. Under the coconut tree in Mexico, another story.

      Thanks Kaushik.

  2. Marie says:

    An amazing account – a wonderfully written one too. I love that you are open and share your journey, it’s inspiring and it’s real. Thank you doesn’t seem enough – yet, thank (in the most hugest way) you (in the most kindest and loving way) for this piece. We get constant reminders that we are here to learn. That ‘life’ is a classroom in a school ‘we signed up for’ and when we’re done learning, and graduate, then…….well will we ever be? We (all of us on this planet, (I believe), are a collective of learners, and by participating, we expand the universe. Swimming upstream? You are honest and funny. I, too, tend to go against the current, and yet when I do surrender, those precious seconds of giving up always bring the sweetest moments. But do I remember? Do I earn…oh yes, for a few moments, and then I use the energy gained in the sweet break to turn against the current. Less often, lately, but it’s a human thing, for sure.

    • wanda says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Marie! Yes, I do believe we are living in one of the toughest schools in the universe, learning, learning, learning. And one day, may I learn the art of surrender.

  3. Dallas Fikowski says:

    “Intellectually, I understand the paradox of letting go leading to the possibility of something even better to enter”

    It’s funny how the universe lines things up to happen in our lives. The deal, the class, the crash…and you have managed the transition with vulnerability and authenticity.

    Beautiful writing Wanda. Keep up the great work 🙂

    • wanda says:

      Thanks so much Dallas and thank you for taking the time to read it. Today: I’ve just discovered that the golf ball sized hail of last night has damaged my whole car, along with shattering the centre of the windshield.

      It appears the universe is bound and determined for me to learn something!

  4. Karen says:

    Hey Wanda – sounds like a test. I am still a victim of the “pre-panic” and sometimes I wonder if the pre-panic is a necessary step, to trigger the good news – reversing the anticipated bad news – so we learn not to jump to conclusions or believe everything we are told (especially geeks working on computers…not infallible as we see here).

    I am so glad your work is not lost and that the universe continues to put clues or crackers on your path. When you finally get to the “place” you have long imagined, just think what a great story you have lived, to get there!

    Love ya! K

    • wanda says:

      Thanks Karen (back at ya!) It’s been a wild journey and I realize this IS the destination. What lives in my imagination is a lot more beauty and a lot less strife. Watch for my latest post in the next 24 hours about that!


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