Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Surrendering to Acts of Surrender...Again

As I have shared here before, Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Memoir is a book I never wanted to write. Yet, as I discovered through the writing of it, and as you'll discover in the following excerpt, it has proved to be the most personally important -- and healing -- of any book I have written to date. 

The key difference between today's excerpt and all the others that I have posted is that the book is now not only finished but published. Nearly three years to the day since I reluctantly penned the first word of the first draft of a still-untitled memoir, Acts of Surrender is in book form and ready to be read.

Why did I feel the need to release it so quickly, and why in ebook form? Read on...and I'll tell you. 

(Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Memoir is available for Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks and is readable on a dedicated e-reader, using a free app for your tablet or smartphone, or using a free app or web reader for your desktop or laptop.)

The Next Surrender

It’s July 9, 2012. I’m driving home from Starbucks after an afternoon’s revisions to Acts of Surrender. The book is nearly complete, and I’m looking forward to being able to put it aside and move on to other projects. From the moment nearly three years ago when I set down the first words of the first draft, this book has remained one of my most profound, and difficult, acts of surrender. As Toshar does in The MoonQuest, I have had to overcome my reluctance to write my story or risk a form of stasis. As Q’nta does in The StarQuest, I have had to accept the predominant role that storytelling plays in every aspect of my life or risk living without passion. And like Ben in The SunQuest, I have had to not only recount my past but re-experience its emotions with sometimes disturbing fidelity, or risk betraying my human potential.

More daunting than all those challenges has been my anxiety around releasing this book into the world. In one sense, that’s odd. There are few stories shared here that I have not told before — to friends and clients or, more publicly, in talks and workshops. Some have been disseminated even more widely through my blogs and The Voice of the Muse.

But my life until now has been compartmentalized. Through the decades of my journey, I have lived very distinct lives as I have traveled from Marky to Mark to David to Akhneton/Aq’naton to Mark David and as I have redefined my sexuality, my spirituality, my sense of self, my work and most things about me — multiple times. Few of you have known me through even half those changes, and the parts of me that still fear judgment wonder how the rest of you will respond to the mosaic that is me.

Fear of judgment is not a new issue in my life, as you will have read in these pages. I picked it up early on from my mother and, as much of it as I have shed through the years, I have retained more than I realized...more than I care to admit. That has been one of my discoveries as Acts of Surrender has moved closer to completion. It’s a discovery that snuck up on me, masquerading as a weird panoply of physical and emotional symptoms, before exploding into full awareness on this twenty-minute drive home.

Until the moment before this one, I have been feeling safe, despite my stress. With no publisher and no resources to produce the book myself, all I can do is finish it, show it to a few friends for feedback and file it away. Its day will come. That day, clearly, is not today.

Then, a voice — once again, the voice of my Muse. Today, it’s seductively indirect, recognizing that the blunt tone it has employed in the past would only feed my fear, not usher me past it.

What about all those Acts of Surrender excerpts you’ve posted — on your website, on Facebook and elsewhere? Won’t all that promotional investment be wasted if you shelve the manuscript?

I say nothing.

I’m approaching the corner of Paseo del Norte and Unser, four minutes from my front door, and I am not responding as my Muse had hoped I would. A delay is required. When I reach the intersection, a police cruiser blocks the way, forcing a ten-minute, bumper-to-bumper detour. As I crawl through traffic on a street that is never anything but free-flowing, a flash of Muse-inspired insight strikes.

I could produce Acts of Surrender as an ebook. It wouldn’t be as perfect as I might prefer, but— 

In that instant I know that I must produce Acts of Surrender as an ebook — for reasons that have nothing at all to do with promotional investment. That argument was a devious ruse. If my biggest fear is of exposing myself to the world — of walking the earth naked, clothed only in my truth — then the only way to face that fear is by releasing the book. As speedily as possible. Not for anyone else. For me. That’s the only way I will move through and past my terror. And if my only option for getting it out quickly is as an ebook, then that’s my best course of action...my only course of action.

If I were to choose an archetype to describe my life’s journey, it would be The Fool, a Tarot character often pictured stepping off a cliff into the unknown. His may be a leap of faith, but it’s never blind faith. For he knows that even as he trades the certainty of solid ground for the mysteries of the void, the infinite wisdom of his infinite mind will guide him forward. This knowingness frees him to surrender again and again. And again. Not without resistance and not without fear, but in the conviction that resistance is futile, fear cannot stop him and meaning is always present, even when it is invisible.

The Tarot Fool may appear to have a choice in his folly: In many decks, one of his feet is still firmly anchored. He could step back. Or could he? In my favorite representation, from The Osho Zen Tarot, it’s too late: One foot hangs off the edge; the other only barely touches the earth. That’s the kind of Fool I am: always in motion, with a momentum that keeps pressing me on to the next act of surrender. Any other choice breaks faith with a choice I made long ago, a choice that banished conventional free will from my life, a choice to live my passion as authentically as humanly possible, whatever the consequences.

As I pull into my driveway I realize that if Toshar could not move forward until he had written his story, I cannot move forward either, as the Fool that I am, until I make mine public. And so I make the commitment — to this next leap of faith, to this next surrender.

There will be more acts of surrender after this one. There always are. Each one will push me harder than the last. Each one will nudge me closer to my essential truth. Each one will require a greater leap of faith. And through each, I will continue to trust in the story. Whether it’s the story I’m writing or the story I’m living, it always knows best.

Excerpt from Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Memoir 
(c) 2012 Mark David Gerson

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