Surrender and Control

I stumbled on an Andy Anderson skate video on Chris Hannah’s blog. Andy lives the “dirtbag” lifestyle of a skater and makes a wonderful observation on what it means to rest (emphasis mine):

…There’s a skill to relaxing, finding peace…It’s funny how relaxing is so tied into being lazy because it doesn’t neccesarily mean you’re being lazy. Part of my work is relaxing. Becasue relaxing is taking control of yourself1 and accepting that you’re not controlling anything else.

Hearing Anderson talk about the the work of relaxing, I couldn’t help but think of what it means to stop…that is “sabbath.” Then, when he went on to talk about control and “accepting that you’re not controlling anything else,” something occured to me. “Control and surrender” is a sabbatic balance.

Brian Eno, Austin Kleon, and Alan Jacobs2—all speak of the creative process flourishing via the slow growth of control and surrender. Here’s Eno:

Control and surrender have to be kept in balance. That’s what surfers do – take control of the situation, then be carried, then take control. In the last few thousand years, we’ve become incredibly adept technically. We’ve treasured the controlling part of ourselves and neglected the surrendering part. I want to rethink surrender as an active verb…It’s not just you being escapist; it’s an active choice. I’m not saying we’ve got to stop being such controlling beings. I’m not saying we’ve got to be back-to-the-earth hippies. I’m saying something more complex.

At another point, Eno pictures surrender as a dynamic ship flexible enough to move through rough waters without breaking. This dynamism of “surrender as an active verb” ripens what it means to stop and rest. Without control, surrender would acquiesce to abstraction stripped of it’s particularity. Without surrender, control would absolutize into tyranny.

Shabbat begets the weaving of shalom. Control and surrender is the sabbath balance. Let’s re-create and weave peace bringing love its due worth.

  1. Here we get into the territory of free-will and I am mostly in the Augustinian and Calvinian camp on that one (although Molinism makes an interesting case). [return]
  2. I cited these sources in a post about blogging some time ago on Medium. [return]
Poetics of Prayer @Izak