This is the story I was told: When I was 3 years old, my mom strapped me into a children's ride at a local amusement park and told the operator to gun it. As I screamed for it to stop, she told him to go faster. I cried, she laughed. And I just kept going around and around and around.
There's no way this actually happened. My mom has a sick sense of humor, but she isn't a sadist. I couldn't have been publicly tortured without witnesses. I never would have been alone on a kiddie coaster, would I? And yet the memory feels so real. Either I exaggerated it in my own head, or whoever told me the story as a kid greatly embellished. Regardless, it now lives as a trauma in the deep recesses of my mind.
I don't think about it often, but looking back now I am sure this was the defining moment of my life. The first time I learned that someone else is in control of the throttle. And they aren't afraid to use it. The notion was unacceptable to me, and as soon as I was old enough to exert my will, I never let anyone control me again.
It's been about 30 years of being a control freak, but I hide it well. I go along with whatever restaurant my friends pick. I let people cut me in the boarding line. That stuff doesn't faze me. But when it comes to any decision where I have to live with the consequences, you better believe I'm in the driver seat.
Sure, it's nice to get my way. I just wish I didn't always have to fight so hard to make it happen.
You see, this desperate need to be in control is actually incredibly painful. I live in a battle against nature, sailing against the wind, constantly maneuvering in order to get where I'm trying to go. The universe says "No," and I say, "Screw you, universe! You can't stop me." But the universe always wins in the end.
"If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it." — Toni Morrison
To surrender is to cease resistance. To stop fighting. To give up, to give in, to abandon. In my lifelong refusal to do this, I've ended up causing myself a whole lot of stress and anxiety and anguish.
Some things just aren't meant for me. Some things aren't meant to be this hard. Oftentimes the ends don't justify the means, especially when the means mean destroying yourself.
Why live life fighting fate?
I've worked tirelessly to get where I am in my career. But sometimes I can't help but wonder if I have sacrificed more than I have gained. The notion that I could do less and have more haunts me. Where might I have ended up had I been willing to ride the wind? Where would I be now? What if I let nature carry me to exactly where I'm meant to be?
"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." — Joseph Campbell
As I look back at 12 months of writing here, I can see now how the journey unfolded. I gave myself a year to live, to overcome my fear of death, to live in the present, to search for space, to give myself permission, to ask for help, to find my place, to take a load off.
I learned you have to be willing to lose it all to have it all. Put your trust in the universe to take care of you and you'll get exactly what you need. And it will be so much more than you ever could have devised.
So I'm taking a deep breath, I'm closing my eyes, and I'm letting go of the wheel. Now it's your turn.