It was a dusky moment. The skies were dimming down, bright blues shuttered to a grayer darker hue. Details less crisp. I closed my eyes.
The sounds were intriguing. Soft whoomp whoomps. There was a rhythm that was slightly arrythmical, as if each time the rhythm found it’s groove something jarred it out of place. A moment of silence, then the whoomps would start to flow again. Listened to long enough, the jarring pauses became a rhythm of their own.
Keeping my eyes closed, I leaned back, extending my hands and arms behind me so my palms could rest on the picnic table. I was sitting on the top surface, feet on the bench, feeling the gaps between boards, where the flesh of my thighs and bum pressed through. I imagined I could feel the last remnants of sunshine on my face as I tilted my head up. The whoomp whoomps continued.
There were other sounds. Shrill high pitched shrieks. Those shrieks would build up in a spiral of energy until they abruptly settled down into lower bursts of laughter. Then it would build again. The cycle kept up. Every once in a while I would hear conversation. Some of it to my left, adult voices murmuring, laughing. To my right, a rapid fire chitter chatter, in a higher pitch, bursting forth, then dying off.
I was reluctant to open my eyes. With them closed, everything felt mysterious, strange but contained.
It was when I opened my eyes that I felt alarm, and the acceleration of my heartbeat. So I opened my eyes for a moment, did a quick scan of the space to my right, then leaned back and closed my eyes again. I wondered how long it would go on.
That night I was witness to the most epic pillow fight I had ever seen, or even heard of. I was a chaperone to my 11 year old daughter’s school trip. She, and other similar aged children from schools in the Pacific Northwest of Canada were participating in a rite of passage, the Waldorf School’s Greek Olympics and I had volunteered to be one of the group chaperones.
I was exhausted. This was the last night, after the big event, and the children had been wired. A small pillow fight had broken out the night before, considered epic in scale at the time (40 children). Word had spread, and all of the cabins with all of the children were planning another pillow fight before bed. There were 112 children altogether.
Parents and teachers surrendered to the high keening pitch of excitement around the campfire, laid out some ground rules (no hard pillows, only 10 minutes, not near the fire), and let the children loose.
Incredibly, no one got injured. Almost everyone participated. The whoomps, the shrieks, the mania of energy somehow flowed with enough ease that the pillow fight happened, energy got burnt off, and everyone was in bed on time.
I only had to calm my heart every time I opened my eyes to see pillows flying, half the size of the children’s bodies, hitting with their full vigour, fury and playfulness, all at once. Little clusters of fights would form then break up on the lawn, covered with over 100 11-year old forms singlemindedly intent on the fight.
It was an opportunity to practice surrender and faith. Surrendering to the forces of the group excitement, surrendering to the fact that I couldn’t stop what was building. In the act of surrender, finding faith. Faith that the children would be fine. Faith that the pillow fight was necessary, was fun, and was safe. Faith in myself – that I could let go and everything would be ok. Faith in the children and my daughter.
And that is the other reason why I kept my eyes closed. I wanted to shut off the visual stimulation and linger in enjoyment of the abstract sounds, the intriguing rhythms. I surrendered to the pleasure of the moment.
As always, I’m curious – can you recall a moment like that – where the group energy took over, in the most surprising and magical ways? What about a time when you simply had to surrender and have faith. What was the result?
Until next time,
ps – if you’d like to read more stories on life, beauty, and practicing surrender, subscribe to my weekly e-letter. That’s where I share most of all.