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Tenth Anniversary Issue (and final issue)
A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine
November's Theme: "Secluded"
Volume 11 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265

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Greetings from the State of Surrender!
by John Ptacek

I have lived in the State of Wisconsin all my life, but have recently been spending time in a different state, the State of Surrender. Have you ever been?  

Maybe it's the air quality, but in the State of Surrender it is so easy to perceive the beauty in every expression of life, every single one. The slightest movements inspire awe: rain dripping from an overflowing gutter, wind fraying the heads of dead dandelions, an old woman lowering her head in prayer.

There is no less beauty in the stillness here. I could hold out a picture frame and turn in any direction to capture it. My dirt-stained sneakers splayed against the crumbling sidewalk: an exquisite still life rendering.  

In some ways the State of Surrender is like every other state I have been in. There are strip malls, churches, museums, parks, and freeways. There are preachers, prostitutes, pickpockets, warriors, and wanderers.

What makes the State of Surrender different is that there are no saints or sinners here. There is no good and no evil. No mental labels to hang on anyone or anything. No personal judgments to corrupt the natural beauty that lies at the core of every living thing. The mind doesn't work that way here. It does not operate untethered, compulsively judging everything in sight, grinding beauty into paste. Here the mind does not operate without heart. It is an instrument of compassion.  

The State of Surrender is not a state of giddiness. Great sadness arises when our confused minds bring about suffering. But here sadness does not lead to more suffering. It does not accelerate into vengeance. This is because sadness extends all who suffer, including those whose suffering is so great it causes them to inflict pain on others. There is an indivisible sense of family here that does not exist in other states I have visited. No one is abandoned. No one is cut off from the healing power of love. Forgiveness reigns.

Surrender may sound like a dream state, however it's anything but that. In this state my eyes are wide open, as if for the first time. Dreams are built on desire, and here desire is an unnecessary commodity. All I have ever desired is to be one with the world around me, to feel as intimately connected to it as I did my mother upon first awakening into this life, and here my connection to the world is as seamless as a blushing sunset. In the State of Surrender I forget where I begin and end. I lose myself in the splendor that surrounds me. I sink into the canvas on which I once stood.

When I return to Wisconsin, I take on habits that reveal the nature of my journey — the way people take on hints of a Southern accent after visiting Georgia or Tennessee. I look around at all that happens with a greater sense of acceptance. I don't see good guys and bad guys, just guys. If someone is coarse with me, forgiveness kicks in like a furnace in winter. I am a Judo master, yielding to the weight of opposing forces before taking action. I pivot rather than react. This tango of nonresistance is surrender. It is the dance of those who embrace life exactly as it is, who move in step with it as if following the lead of a lover.

John Ptacek's essays explore the unquestioned assumptions that limit our capacity for happiness. They appear on his website, On Second Thought at www.johnptacek.com. John lives in Wisconsin.

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