When to fight and when to surrender

"Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” — Eckhart Tolle. 

I used to be a very firm believer of the idea of fighting. Fighting for what is important to you. Fighting for what or whom you love. Fighting for what you want in your life. For your goals, for your dreams, for your desires. I always believed that what differentiates those people who get what they want and those who don’t, was their willingness to fight. To give everything they have, to prioritize that one thing over everything else. 

I still believe that today. However, I learned that this philosophy comes with a caveat sometimes. An exception if you want. Namely that sometimes, it’s not the fighting that will bring you closer to your goals, but more the act of surrendering. That just because you want something really bad, doesn’t mean that you are entitled to get it. No matter how much you think you deserve it or how much you tell yourself that it’s meant to be. 

Our view and understanding of the world is far too limited to recognize the absolute truth or to predict our own path. Not always are we able to control our circumstances by using our limited thinking and the structures we have created in our minds. In other words: life is so much bigger than we can possible comprehend and not everything will go the way we want things to go. "Wanting things" is a process that roots in us and that can be completely misaligned with what we are capable of what life has foreseen for us (you might have heard of the quote “life is what happens to you when you are busy planning”). 

I was reading a nice story in this book the other day which was the perfect anecdote for what I’m trying to express here. I will try to rephrase in my own words what it was about. 

Imagine it’s a beautiful summer day and you are standing at the window of your house looking outside into your garden. Suddenly you notice this truly beautiful butterfly flying around your garden plants. You see the butterfly and you think yourself how wonderful it is. “Goodness, I really want this butterfly. I want it so bad … I’m gonna go and get it”. So you run into your room and you grab your net. You run outside into the garden and run around trying to catch this butterfly. You hide, you jump, you stretch. You try your best, you give 110%. Just minutes later you are covered in sweat and your pulse is sky high. As much as you try, you simply can’t catch it. In the meantime, you have stepped on half of your garden plants and you are completely out of breath. Completely exhausted you sit down on your garden bench and try to get your head clear. You breathe in and out, you calm down. Suddenly you look up and you see how the butterfly flies towards you and sits down on your nose.

Some things in life are that butterfly. You put a tight grip on what you want, but the harder you try the more you actually push it away. And while you are trying, you don’t even notice how you are destroying some of the beautiful things around you. Only when you let go of your desire, only when you calm down and give it some time, only when you take the pressure off your desires and off yourself, you start attracting the things you were chasing all the time before.

That butterfly that ends up sitting on your nose in the story might be the butterfly that you were chasing at the wrong time and under the wrong circumstances, or it might be a completely different butterfly. One that is more beautiful and one that actually wants to be around you. 

As much as I like this story and as many life lessons it might contain, the biggest point here is that the protagonist is NOT giving up. He is simply surrendering to something that I would like to call “The Universe”. You can call it god, a spirit, an energy, what have you. Your faith that things will be all fine in the end needs to be stronger than your fear of not getting what you want. By surrendering, you not only accept that you have done your very best but you also trust that The Universe will fix it. That you can’t force the right things but that sometimes the right things will come and find you. That there is a bigger power that will ensure that you will be all fine at the end of it all and that if what you wanted in the first place, will happen if it's aligned with your life's purpose.