Never at any point prior had I ever imagined myself sitting barefoot on an unstable plastic chair dressed in a nightgown that buttoned all the way up to just under my chin, long voluminous swathes of material that extended well over my wrists and well past my ankles in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle.
And yet here I was, getting eaten alive by many forms of biting bugs, a position I had chosen over the stifling room I’d been given in to sleep in prior.
I laughed at first. Initially to myself. Then out loud. And then the crying merged to sobbing and I found I didn’t know what to do with myself as the ugly cries and tears and snot streamed and I didn’t want to use the sleeve of the gifted nightdress to deal with any of it.
I felt my chest. My passport was still there, gaffer taped to my person. A small group of others slept in the tiny hut just behind me.
It was 2005, shortly after the first Tsunami had demolished the Sri Lankan shoreline and I was here to help.
The fear was palpable. The second Tsunami was coming. It was a fixture in the minds of all who had seen the first. A TukTuk had sped out of the trees and picked up a reluctant me from my dilapidated lodging near the shoreline.
If the second wave comes, I was advised, you must get off the ground. Even if the water is only 2cm deep, it will come at you the speed of a jumbo jet. You will be knocked off your feet and swept out. In many cases, it wasn’t the depth of the water that killed, but this. Get off the ground.
I was tired. I felt alone. I was in this strange place and I was hot and sticky and for that moment, over it.
The first thing to happen was a detachment. As I sat and sobbed with my weary, tired tears I dropped deeper. A quietness. Still bearing witness to my own crying but as though I was hearing myself in another room.
It stopped, little by little. I was like a child, distracted from their feeling by a toy held out for them. The quiet deepness, a door very slightly ajar, tempting me to peek around the corner.
I sat. For how long, I’m not sure. Just me and the bugs and the heat and the 1800’s nightdress.
I asked the quietness what to do. It felt like it was open to questions.
Listen, I asked it. How do I let go?
I sat for longer.
How do I let go?
I felt my hands relax on my legs.
By releasing what you are holding onto.
Faith is a curious thing. It’s an act of surrender in moments where you feel like holding tighter is the only logical answer. It’s a return to some understanding, however superficial, that you are part of a bigger navigational system that will guide you and tell you what to do from one moment to the next.
We can plan. We can arrange as much as we are able. We can learn and save and account for. But the thing we have the least practice in is something that we need the most of: Faith and trust.
Not in anything or anyone around us.
In all the moments since, I have practiced with varying success those two things. When I feel anxious, afraid or unsure, I drop deeper.
I detach from the noise. I drop as deep as I can go.
There are always two things waiting for me there.
Trust that no matter what happens, I can, and will, deal with what comes up.
Surrender to the moment. Only looking as far as the next right step.
Trust and surrender are the worker bees of your intuition. Aligning yourself with them takes you out of future-focused fear and connects you to a guidance system as expansive as the stars in the sky.
In many instances, the only reason we seek this out and find peace within it is when we’ve spent too much time in the opposite. Too much time holding on. Too much time thinking. Too much time attempting to control everything we deem within our scope of power.
It’s ironic to think that the answer could possibly come from no longer holding on.
That the power lies in an intangible practice of trust rather than a logical grappling with details and fine print.
My horses are a constant reminder, my teachers, of this deep pool of knowing. They live within this space. When they think about how to behave, act or respond, it comes from their knowing. Left to their own devices, their knowing never lets them down.
It tells them, graze now.
They don’t pre-empt their knowing. Or wonder if it no longer there. They simply trust that in the moment, it will speak to them and they will deal with it as it comes up.
They trust in their knowing and trust in themselves.
Big situations require big trust.
And the knowing is always there.
So if you find yourself rising up. Into the space of anxiety, fear or concern. Drop deeper.
Tap into your trust.
And remind yourself that whatever comes up, you will handle it as and when it is needed.