2020 challenged even the best of coping mechanisms.
Funny how we can delude ourselves into thinking we have it all together when life is cruising along according to our expectations. And then some “black swan” event like Covid comes along and we’re hurled out of our comfort zones and forced to rethink our lives while grappling with forces WAY beyond our control. That’s why I’m approaching 2021 as a year of disarmament of my usual defenses and strategies, and a year of surrender.
Last year was just the warm-up act of my learning to surrender.
By saying this I’m not in any way downplaying the devastation that Covid has delivered and continues to deliver. The volcano continues to erupt as we land squarely in a new year. Vaccine rollouts aren’t happening expeditiously enough and a lot of people continue to misbehave (and continue to deny the existence of Covid). Most countries are still playing catch-up while running around with their pants down. The light at the end of the tunnel still seems way far off.
Big, heavy sigh.
So, as I prepare myself for a year of surrender, I keep two particular quotes close at hand to keep me focused and sustained.
So wildflowers will come up where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different.
Surrender.” — Rumi
“Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing.”
— Eckhart Tolle
Not knowing is a biggie for me and my biggest obstacle to surrender.
Letting go of the “need to know” doesn’t come easily to me. I suspect it is the same for most people. We want to swing into action, to patch ourselves up so that can expel the pain or discomfort. Rob Preece, in an eloquent essay in Tricycle (read the full article here), shares an integrated Buddhist perspective:
“It is tempting to grasp at something that will rapidly patch up the cracks and create a sense of security. We can experience these fearful times as periods of great danger, or we can see them as opportunities to change the orientation of our life.” – Rob Preece, The Buddhist Review – Tricycle
For yours truly, in this year of surrender, life already has taken a different turn.
And that means you, my subscribers, will be hearing a lot more about Liguria! Yes, we’ve moved from Treviso in Veneto and are living now on the opposite coast and a short drive from the border of France. We found a lovely home with expansive sea views and made the move just over a month ago.
There is a lot to tell, but I’ll have to save that for future posts. We’re still getting our “land legs” in our new local (unpacking and organizing seems like a never-ending task). We’re learning our new geography and what the local culture offers. I’m a seafood addict, so we’ve come to the right place.
If Covid hadn’t come along, we wouldn’t have considered this path.
Mid-way through the year, when restrictions had been lifted and we were once again free to travel, we came to Liguria to spend long overdue time with my Italian in-laws. While it shouldn’t take a big crisis to underscore the importance of family, it did for us, and realized that we didn’t want to be so far away.
Nurturing time with family and glorious daily walks in the seaside villages inspired us to open our minds to make a move we wouldn’t have made otherwise. And, after several months of chewing on the possibility, we took the leap.
Letting life be and trusting that some bigger is at work.
Consider the incredible force that heals a wound within our bodies. Sure, our responsibility is to clean and dress it. But, staring at it and trying to consciously will it to heal is not in the least helpful. Surrender means getting out of the impossible role we’ve assigned ourselves for far too long of trying to control the universe according to our ideas. It means facing pain, fear, and other forms of discomfort rather than stuffing them away in the basements of our psyches where they stew and grow and rob us of vital energies.
I’m not saying it’s easy. We’re not taught to build these emotional and mental muscles.
If you’re looking for a resource to help you understand the importance of surrender and its potential benefits, I highly recommend Letting Go, The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins.
A dramatic life change like moving to Italy will invite you, again and again, to surrender.
Consider queueing up at the questura for your appointments to get your initial permesso di soggiorno or its yearly renewal. You’ll experience firsthand the perspective of being an immigrant. You’ll often have to wait, possibly, hours, even though you have a specified appointment. An angry or impatient internal dialog isn’t going to help things along. At least that’s what I’ve learned, and in such situations (they’re plenty as a new resident to Italy) breathing deeply and surrendering (the two are inseparable for me) are essential. The line eventually thins, your name is called, and life goes on.
2021 is the year of surrendering to how our life in a new locale will unfold.
Uprooting one’s life can be exciting, but incredibly stressful, especially as Covid rages on. There have been plenty of nights when I’ve woken up around 3:00 a.m having a crap-what-have-we-done dialog with myself. That’s why I’ve also taken up regular meditation through the Calm app. (Jeff Warren’s 30-day meditation is exactly my style (down to earth and plainspoken)). I’m amazed at how much it has helped. I’m even considering cranking up my long-abandoned yoga practice—anything to quiet my mind.
I spent too much of 2020 on the ropes. With more equilibrium, I can squarely focus on practicing surrender (or, more accurately, not fighting or trying to squash what is unfolding), and being kind to myself when I’ve lapsed into trying to manipulate events and control outcomes. Surrender doesn’t mean that I become a wet noodle and just sit back and expect things to happen without my participation. No, it means being purposeful and thoughtful in my action and THEN being unattached to the outcome.
And, it means having faith that in the vast unknown, life remains a fountain of new possibilities!
I so enjoy your post and your willingness to reveal your deep personal thoughts, beliefs and dreams to all who read and enjoy this blog. So thank you very much for your all of your insights regarding not only “all about Italy” but also to be willing your share your thought provoking articles expanding on where you are and what you are feeling at this present moment of your life…I am sure your many readers feel the same way as I……
“I had lived in Lucca for the past three years up until Jan 1st , 2020 when we arrived back in the States which we thought was for only a three month hiatus….. And then the perfect storm, Covid, Health issues, and a self induced saga of fixing up an old dwelling that had been abandoned for five years…….
That being said, a few months before we returned to the States we visited the Liguria Coast and also several towns around Nice..as the mild winters and expansive Ocean views and natural beauty seemed attractive to us about possibly settling in this area upon our return.
We are so looking forward to reading about where you settled and what your thoughts are on the move…
Stay safe & healthy
Hi Mikel, your comments and encouragement are so appreciated. Sometimes I feel as though I am journaling publically, and I know that my experience doesn’t necessarily jive with other people’s but we’re all trying to make our way through the often perplexing experience of living, and sharing experiences can round out one’s perspective.
I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn about this part of Liguria and why it was more attractive to us than the parts of Liguria further east and south. I’m learning that there is a point in the Ligurian coast at which the weather patterns shift much more favorably, especially during the colder months. We’re in it! And Imperia boasts having the greatest number of sunny days of any city in Italy. We’ll see if that bears out. What I do know is that the expansive sea views and the leisurely strolls (or brisk jogs) along the waterfront are a balm to my soul! Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to reach out to me as I learn more about Liguria! You too, stay safe and healthy! Jed
You’re on the right path… Family is everything… you made the right decision… now, Enjoy!
Thanks, Kevin, for the encouragement! Family IS everything (along with my closest friends).
So well written and so spot on. I too am going to try the calm app. Those wake ups at 3:00 are kicking my butt. Love to you always!
Thanks, my dear! I think you’ll like Jeff Warren on the Calm app. I want to be friends with the guy! Also, there are other get-back-to-sleep mediations for those middle-of-the-night wake-ups. They’ve helped. xoxox
I am excited to learn more about your new location since I love the coast and seafood. And, I like that you are close to the French border because that means adventures of a slightly different kind. Such fun! Best of luck to you…and stay well so you can enjoy it all.
Hi Joyce, we are just scratching the surface. We’re holed up at home 95% of the time, only leaving to visit inlaws who remain isolated, so our bubble is well maintained! Yes, new and different adventures (and that will include excursions into Southern France since I am also a big fan of French wines)!
I can’t wait to hear more about your new home! The photos are so beautiful — you will be sharing so many wonderful new photos of people and places.
Thanks, dear friend! We will be waiting with open arms for you and Leo!
Whoa. Congratulations on your move! I’ll be watching for your new posts as always. Thanks, Jed.
Thanks, Angela. Just when I thought the big changes were behind us! Stay tuned and stay well! Bacioni!
Congratulations on your move and on finding ways to calm your soul. I will continue to look forward to your updates and your experiences. Exciting times. ~Un’abbraccio
Grazie mille, Tammy. Siamo molto felici di aver preso questa decisione! Sono pronto per scoprire i vini e i cibi di Liguria e Piemonte!
Jed, congratulations in finding your new home. Will be eagerly awaiting the story behind the story. I too have been thinking about that side of Italy and how little I have explored it. My best wishes to you.
Thank you, Susan! We’re so happy to be close to family though, as you know, we can’t move about as freely or as often. At least we’re giallo for now! I’m loving it here and loving finding grounding just looking at the sea! Once things are normalizing, I hope you and Gary will come visit! xoxox Jed