It was remarkable how many people responded to my last post, through emails, comments, and Facebook posts. Repeatedly people said some version of: “YES! This is what I need too! I’ve been feeling so lost and your post felt like permission to tear up the maps and simply surrender to the path that lays itself out before me.”
It seems a lot of people need lack-of-vision boards instead of vision boards. It seems we all need to re-learn the importance of surrender.
In our goal-obsessed, vision-board-creating, be-busy-or-be-nothing, success-driven culture, we have forgotten something that’s really, really important.
There is great value in getting lost.
It’s true. We can’t go through the journey of life without letting ourselves get profoundly lost sometimes. The places where we get lost – where we surrender to the spiritual spirals that takes us into a deeper knowing, where we give up on the expected outcome and let something new emerge – those are the places in which we are transformed.
Yesterday, I curled up in bed next to my Mom and I wept over the way cancer is stealing her body and her energy. I wept for the things we can no longer do together. I wept for the future ahead that looks foreign and unfriendly. I wept for the great loss that the end of her life will bring. I wept because I felt utterly and completely lost.
Nobody gives you a roadmap for losing a parent. Nobody teaches you a course in how to watch cancer destroy someone you love. Nobody prepares you for a detour into the spiralling vortex of grief.
This one thought gave me some comfort me in my grief… I am SUPPOSED to feel lost. I’m supposed to feel like a ship that’s lost its anchor, tossed about on these unpredictable waves of longing and loss. I’m supposed to feel like the ground has been pulled out from underneath me and I am desperately clutching for something to keep me from falling.
This is all part of the process. This is all part of my journey.
Don’t get me wrong – just because I am deeply familiar with the chaos of grief, doesn’t make this easy. It’s excruciating and I’m fighting my way through waves of anger, heartache, and bitterness. “Must I go through this AGAIN?!” I shout to the heavens. “Isn’t it enough that Dad died in a ditch and it felt like that tractor had driven over my heart and not just his? Do you have to take Mom away too?”
I rant and I rave and I cry, but at least I give myself permission to be lost. At least I don’t have any unrealistic expectations of “closure” or “acceptance” or “5 steps through grief”.
Back in June, I took part in a change lab in which we walked through Theory U, a rich and meaningful process that helps groups (and individuals) move through change by letting go of the past, “presencing” what is to come, and then, with an open heart and open mind, letting the new thing come. It wasn’t ostensibly designed to teach us about grief, but grief is part of every change process and so the two are closely intertwined. To get through any transformational change, we need to let go and let come. Like walking the labyrinth, we need to release, receive, and return.
In this profound place of loss in which I find myself again, I’m taking another deep dive into the U curve, letting go of the past, accepting the chaos, being present in the loss. All the while, I am connecting to Source, opening my heart and opening my mind to the new future.
This will change me. I will shed a lot of tears and release a lot of anger. It will tear me apart and then rebuild me into something new. It will be a stronger version of myself. I know this to be true. I am stronger for the paths of grief I have walked down. I am wiser for the loss I have suffered. I am more compassionate because I have graves to visit. I can call myself a “guide on the path through chaos to creativity” because I am deeply familiar with chaos and loss.
Remember this… You have permission to be lost. You have permission to let go. You have permission to dive into the bottom of the U, not knowing what will emerge after the surrender. You have permission to cry and rant and rave. You have permission to tear up maps and destroy the pretence of paths. You have permission to not make any goals but instead to surrender to what comes.
Let go, and then let come. And in between, keep breathing.