Tuesday, June 7, 2022

            When I’m driving, I actually look forward to seeing ‘YIELD’ signs on the road, for they afford me a chance to once again surrender, an experience I mostly missed out on in my younger years. I grew up in a culture that equated surrendering with defeat and disgrace, so, like most of the guys I hung out with, I became a ‘tough-guy fighter’, someone who tried to never physically give in or give up. As the years have passed, however, I have slowly seen that ‘surrendering’ sometimes brings triumph instead of defeat, sometimes shows strength instead of weakness. Rivers, in a sense, surrender to boulders and thus easily flow around them, and winds yield to mountains and thereby circle past them with ease. I see now that submitting can sometimes strengthen a person, and giving way can often give the gift of victory. Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi proved this as they and their followers bravely but peacefully flowed around hatred and left it stunned and powerless. I guess I’ve learned, over the years, and from heroes like these and many friends, that treating life like it’s a stony-hearted fist-fight is a woeful way to live. Like Dr. King and Gandhi, I’ve slowly set down my material weapons. I’m now, at least fairly often, peacefully yielding to both the flow of cars on the highway and the flow of daily life. Yes, I’m fighting hatred and greed, which I still see everywhere, but not by beating it back with aversion and animosity, which our culture still seems to teach, but rather by flowing around and through it in strong but peaceful ways. Like millions of others, I’m raising, not our culture’s flag of wrathful rivalry (as I see in today’s political bedlam), but the flag of guileless, persuasive nonviolence, and I’m finding more inner force and joyfulness because of it.

Here are some scenes from our happy life …


July 6, 2021


            During my 79 years, I have spent far too much time in one sort of struggle or another – the struggle to fill a day with ‘accomplishments’, the struggle to stay focused on what’s happening right here and right now, the struggle to be brave in a sometimes nerve-racking world. However, in the last 30 years or so, I’ve been bringing the surrender flag with me more often, and carefully unfurling it now and then. I’ve been giving up struggling. I’ve been setting down my combat tools, putting aside my weapons of warfare. I’m still a fairly faithful and attentive do-er of tasks, but I try to be attentive in a temperate way, and faithful like flowing rivers, with a peaceful kind of pushiness. Rivers, I have always realized, do not struggle. They simply slide around rocks and move freely along, and when trees topple, the waters open wide and say “Welcome”. Rivers are powerful in a soft but persevering way, and that’s what I’m aiming for in my daily life. I’ve traded struggling for flowing, and I think contentment has followed me with more willingness than when I was a warrior. 

And here are two faces we saw in huge boulders along the trail we hiked this morning. Can you see the faces? To me, they seem utterly peaceful, just resting, as they’ve done for probably thousands of years, beside the Beebe Pond Trail in Groton, CT.