Friday Musings: Control and Surrender

Friday Musings: Control and Surrender

I have an issue with flying. I was on a flight to Dallas when I was in my twenties that got into some trouble with a wind sheer right after takeoff, and I’ve never quite recovered from the fear. I’m well aware that I’m in more danger behind the wheel of my car than I am at 38,000 feet in the air, but for me it’s a matter of who has control. If I’m driving, then I think I’m the one who’s running the show, even though that’s nothing more than an illusion. If I’m flying, then I have no idea what’s going on in that cockpit, and I find myself fighting the urge to casually check in with the pilot, steal a glance at the instrument panel, and make sure the altitude looks A-ok. Despite my fear of flying, I do not consider myself to be a control freak. Sure, I like things to be neat, I organize the clothes in my closet by color and sleeve length, and I like my cocktails to be precisely measured, but who among us doesn’t pull in on the reins a little tightly when it comes to certain things?? The fact of the matter is that I think we all struggle with the opposing forces of control and surrender on a daily basis.

We start off everyday with a plan in mind, right? If we didn’t, then we’d be wandering aimlessly about with very little sense of purpose. Things go along swimmingly until we hit our first obstacle, at which point we have to decide whether to yield to whatever has just thrown us for a loop, or to try to wrap our hands around its throat and throw it to the ground. The chances of us coming out on the winning side of such a struggle are slim to none. Let’s take a very obvious example that we all frequently encounter: traffic. We’ve laid out our clothes the night before, we’ve packed our lunch, and we’ve dragged ourselves out of bed extra early, all because we know that our drive into work can be unpredictable. But no matter how much we try to plan ahead, there are mornings when we inevitably get stuck behind some slow moving vehicle, or a piece of farm equipment that has no business being on the road, or the dreaded student driver, and all our thoughts of getting in early fly right out the window. We can gnash our teeth, bang the steering wheel, and curse like sailors, but it’s not going to make a damn bit of difference. We’re going to get there when we get there. The universe is slowing us down for a reason, and only the process of surrendering to that fact is going to allow us to soften our hearts and open our minds to learn what that reason is. This is true on a grander scale, as well. We all have a life plan that we think we’re following, until an immoveable object gets put in our path. We change majors in college, we switch jobs during our first year of marriage, an unexpected baby comes along, we get transferred, we go through a breakup, we confront an illness, or, dare I say it one more time: we slip unexpectedly one icy night and are given life’s greatest wake-up call. If I didn’t yield, then I would not be where I am right at this very moment, and where I am is a place of such joy that it has taken me completely by surprise.

That leads me to the ultimate question: do you think there is this same struggle between control and surrender when it comes to love? You knew I would go there. In the beginning, it’s all about control, right? We’re setting boundaries, we’re reinforcing walls, and we’re watching for red flags. We’re on high alert. Yet despite all of our efforts to the contrary, we can feel our edges expanding, we’re watching bricks loosen and fall, and there is not a red flag in sight. This becomes a moment of truth for us: do we try to regain that control because we’re afraid, or because we’ve been hurt, or because it seems too good to be true? Or do we choose to surrender instead, trusting that the universe is offering us a possibility over which we can exert absolutely no influence other than simply allowing it to occur. And once we let it happen, and we fall into a place that’s wonderful, will the struggle between holding fast and letting go resurface again? Indeed it will. Many times. It will always be a part of our nature as human beings to want to be cautious, and it requires constant effort to remain open, and soft, and yielding. It takes genuine courage, and faith in the power of the love we’re in to be willing to give in to it and fall, over and over again. Our minds will always try to exert control with boundaries and walls, but our hearts will never be able to comprehend such limits or structure. Therein lies the struggle, but it’s one that we can overcome, if only we choose to surrender.

For today’s cocktail, I am using whiskey that was sent to me by Howard and Marni Witkin of Sukkah Hill Spirits, from their Cali Distillery. It’s a spirit that’s meant to embody everything about the idea of California, from its climate, to its location, and its soul. It’s finished with spices, giving it a warm and woodsy character that I had no problem surrendering to immediately. I’m not one to be much of an Old-Fashioned drinker, but that is exactly the direction in which I took this cocktail, and I loved the end result. I brought in Suze as my secondary spirit, with the idea in mind of the whiskey yielding to its herbal quality, and then the same thing occurring again with the Wild Mountain Sage bitters and the rosemary simple. The cocktail then symbolizes the concept of this post, each flavor cascading into the next, with no real control other than to bring the ingredients together in a precise manner. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!

Control and Surrender

2 oz Cali Distillery California whiskey
½ oz Suze
1 barspoon rosemary simple
2 dashes DRAM Wild Mountain Sage bitters

Add all the ingredients to an old-fashioned glass with one large cube. Stir until cold. Garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy!

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