Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cruising the Greek Islands: Surrendering

I have struggled a bit with how to start blogging about our cruise through some of the Greek islands. We sailed for seven days with 39 other passengers on a small ship through the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. In some ways, it was a life-changing experience because of the people we met, the places we saw, and the activities we engaged in. 

Some of what I experienced during that magical week will be easy to describe in subsequent posts. But there were themes that developed during the course of the cruise, some of which I have found to be very difficult to articulate. The one I'm writing about in this post is "surrendering." 

The first thing I need to say  - and this is difficult for me - is that I am a recovering controlist. (I just made that word up. I don't like the phrase, "control freak." I think most people are controlists to one extent or another; the key is recognizing it in oneself.) At first, I was annoyed that I couldn’t get Wi-Fi on my computer while on the ship; but then I surrendered and allowed myself to just live the experience instead of worrying about chronicling it “live” on my blog. This was a needed lesson for me.

I surrendered to not being instantaneously connected to e-mail, Facebook and world news. I soaked up the moments without putting pressure on myself to “get our money’s worth” by seeing and doing all we possibly could as we traveled from island to island. 

I surrendered the feeling that I had to actively *seek out* daily experiences and instead gave myself permission to trust that they would seek *me* out or, in other words, go with the flow of life instead of trying to control it.

I surrendered to just sitting on the sun deck and reading a book while at sea. I realized I didn’t have to go, go, go and do, do, do. I gave myself permission to simply sit and read a book, soaking up sunshine and the sea air while occasionally gazing out onto the bluest water I have ever seen.

I surrendered the practice that I needed to learn as much as possible beforehand about places we would see on our travels, a practice that had been born partly out of a desire to better appreciate what I would see and partly out of a desire to “get our money’s worth.” I realized that this practice, carried to extreme, narrowed my vision of what I was seeing and learning, particularly in Rome and Greece. I was trying, in a way, to control instead of flow.

Instead, I embraced the obverse of this practice, i.e., I allowed my mind to be broadened so that I could *then* go home and engage in learning about what I had seen. I also surrendered the thought that I needed to learn as much as possible while there in order to “get my money’s worth.” Instead, I accepted that there was only so much I could absorb, and in consequence, I was able to better enjoy what I was seeing.

Lastly, I surrendered a bit more to self-love. I learned that the inner voices of condemnation and criticism are still active within me; but I also took the time to analyze and confront those voices and, to some extent, disarm them.

Perhaps the concept of “surrendering” oneself to self-love may sound strange to some. But I think anyone who has spent a lifetime judging themselves will know what I mean.

Next post: Ios and Santorini

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