Take a deep breath, and let go
a sweet blessing for surrender
Wild Letters is a weekly newsletter about self-exploration and building a right-fit life. Thank you for being here with me!
After waiting and waiting, after many months (years!) of feeling like this day would never come, it is finally here. Publication day! My first book, How To Be Alone: an 800-mile hike on the Arizona Trail, is now officially out in the world.
The hiking is over, the writing is over, the editing and tweaking and re-writing and designing and formatting and pre-order promotion, it is all over.
For so long this story has been mine, just mine — I started the hike way back in September 2017 (another lifetime ago, it feels like) — and now, over two thousand days later, anyone who wants to can hold the story of that hike in their hands, they can read the words and they can travel along on the adventure that changed me, the experience that finally taught me that if I could not learn to be a good friend to myself then nothing else, no other accomplishment or accolade, would ever really matter at all.
That hike was once mine, only mine. The book was once mine, too. And while the hike will always belong to me the way an experience can only ever truly belong to the person who lived it, the book is different. The book is not mine anymore.
Today, the book is yours.
What does it actually mean to surrender?
And not just surrender as in “now that I am on my knees at the rockiest rock bottom, there is no other choice but to give it all over to something bigger than myself.”
What does it mean to surrender when surrendering is your first choice, when you do not resist it, when you welcome it. When the surrendering is proactive, when the surrendering is full of love, when to surrender is to practice the deepest kind of acceptance—a complete acknowledgement that we cannot ever fully control what happens next.
This is the kind of surrender I am calling in today. It is the surrender I want to experience with my book. The book that is not mine anymore, not really.
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours — the title of another book, by Helen Oyeyemi, and a phrase I now think about with great frequency.
What is not yours is not yours: the words of a quiet inner revolution, the devotion to do what you need to do while it is your turn to do it, and then, when the time comes, the gift of permission to fully release your grip and set free the thing you have made in the dark, offering it up to the light of other people who will make of it what they will.
We cannot control what people think about us.
(Devastating, I know.)
We cannot control what people think about our art. We cannot control what people think about our lives, our choices, our relationships, our bodies, anything. This immutable truth has caused me intense agony over the years, and if I could get a refund on all of the thousands and thousands of hours I’ve tried to mold myself into the most pleasing and likable shape, my god.
But controlling the opinions of others is not our job. Trying desperately to yank the puppet strings of the outcome is not our job. Our job is to make the art. Our job is to live the life. Make things that feel good to make, and then let those things go out into the world. Make and release. Make and release. Make, and release.
And so today, on my book’s birthday, I send it out into the world with a blessing:
May the people who need this story find this story. May the same nourishment I received from the hiking and the writing now feed those who hold improbable dreams of their own. May we all be part of the great web of dreamers. May art beget art beget more and more art. May the unknown outcome cease to inhibit the act of creation. May we never stop creating, never stop making. May this perpetual making set us free.
With profound gratitude for being part of my writerly community —
(Comments are open today! If you’d like to join me in celebrating this book, or if you’d like to share your own current celebration or surrendering, please do so.)