Eventually I lost interest in trying to control life,
to make things happen in a way that I thought I wanted them to be.
I began to practice surrendering to the universe
and finding out what “it” wanted me to do.
– Shakti Gawain, 1948-
Leaving the grounds of Prague Castle, my eye was caught by the fluttering of the sheer white curtain in a window high above Nerudova Street. The material seemed to dance, responding to a late afternoon breeze. I admired its fluidity and lightness.
The ability to flow with events, to go where the wind takes me, has not been one of my strengths. Whether by temperament or training, I have been a control freak for as long as I can remember. For years, I envisioned myself akin to the Israeli psychic Yuri Geller, capable of bending spoons from across the room with sheer will power.
While this approach was actually very effective for me for some time, ultimately, an inability to psychically roll with the punches created a great deal of exhaustion and pain. Ironically, I had spent a couple of decades as a corporate liaison with the press–it’s hard to imagine a role with less control over outcomes. This trip to Prague followed my departure from that career, and was one of my early adventures in practicing surrender to the universe–and “practice” continues to be the operative word for me!
The universe chose a fitting setting. At the crossroads of Europe, Prague has a long history as a cultural crucible, where change has been a constant and revolution often in the air. Prague Castle, founded in 880 and the largest intact castle complex in the world, has often been the scene of seismic cultural, political and religious shifts. In the 10th century, Good King Wenceslas spearheaded the spread of Christianity in Prague. In 1618, two officials were literally thrown out a Castle window in a Protestant Reformation row, purportedly to a 50-foot drop. In the Prague Uprising of 1945, citizens revolted against the Nazis. And, in 1989, the non-violent Velvet Revolution toppled the Communist government.
Prague was once the capital of the kingdom of Bohemia, roots of which go back to the first century. The term bohemian was coined by the French in the 19th century in reference to roving Gypsies who were believed to have come to that country via Bohemia. Bohemian later took on broader meaning, including that of outsiders apart from conventional society and untroubled by its disapproval, often involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits. Bohemians can be wanderers and adventurers.
I spent what now seems to have been an eternity dedicated to conforming to what I thought others wanted me to be. So, I am amused to realize that by more than one definition, I qualify as a bohemian. Who knew how revolutionary surrender could be, and where it could lead?