Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Submission

That's a dirty word in American society, isn't it? I am independent. I am not submissive. I know my own mind and no one can tell me what to do. Right? Except for when we're not independent. Except for when we do what we're told. Except for when we frequently submit our wills to any number of things and people around us. It's how we stay on the road when we're driving, it's how we keep our jobs, it's how we stay in relationships, it's how we live.

If we didn't submit to the utilities services and pay our bills when they demand that we do, we would be without electricity or water or garbage removal (with the possible exception of Mark on his mountain.) If we didn't submit to our bosses and show up every day or when we're scheduled and do the job that is required of us, we would quickly be without a job. If we didn't occasionally submit to our loved ones, we would become bores and chores and probably find ourselves without said loved ones eventually.

I spent this afternoon watching eleven preschoolers, tired and cranky from a busy day at school and all hopped up on sugar, whine and grab and run and ignore their parents. There are any number of torturous hells I would have preferred to endure. There are any number of really fun things I could have been doing. I could have been taking a nap. But, I submitted. Because a little boy with brown eyes painstakingly made thirteen rocket ships out of Lifesavers and Hershey kisses and paper to give to these little miscreants and his teachers. Because my needs are important, but sometimes it is necessary to set them aside to watch little grubby hands carefully deliver love notes into decorated paper bags. So I find the joy in watching him navigate the bedlam that is a preschool party. I swallow the urge to tell someone else's kid to blow their nose. I, once again, sit on my hands so they do not reach out and pet a mom's fur coat. I smile and make appalling small talk and wipe the frosting out of my hair. I submit to this out of love, out of necessity, and in the service of something greater than my own comfort.

We all submit in one way or another. It is another kind of submission that occupies my thoughts tonight, though. It's the same word for a different kind of act, but it carries some of the same ideas. I have a submission. The big envelope with the scary words: "Attn: Editor" in the address. I have dutifully counted my words, checked, double checked, quintuple checked all of the necessary information I must include. I have edited and cut and pasted and read, re-read, re-re-read and edited again. There are any number of ways to torture myself. There are any number of really fun things I could be doing. I could certainly be taking a nap. But now I submit. Because the time for doing other things has passed. Because I have run out of excuses. There are any number of things I could be doing. But instead, I submit. And in this, like in all the other ways I submit in my life, I submit this out of love, out of necessity and in the service of something greater than my own comfort.

And now I will take a nap.

25 comments:

  1. Some mistake submission as weakness - I think it more an obligation at times, and at other times i think it takes great strength.

    Letter to the editor? Tell more :)

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    1. It's an essay I'm submitting to a literary magazine. I agree with you about submission not being a weakness, necessarily.

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  2. True, PG&E has nothing on me. However, a person who wanted instant job security, here on the mountain, would learn the solar power industry, and command a hefty salary. That doggoned three thousand dollar inverter, is programmed in Swahili, and I don't speak it, any more than I am good at pressing the correct buttons, as opposed to having mine pushed.

    I make payments of another kind: blood, sweat and tears. So when I drop from the picture, periodically, for days at a time, know it is because I have no power. With the sweet, comes the bitter, but we wouldn't have it ANY other way. The ultimate goal is complete sustainability.

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  3. I hate that word: submission. It connotes personal loss. But you have put a different spin on it. Through your eyes, I see that , yup, I submit all the time. It is my life, really. why does that bother me so?

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    1. I think we don't like the connotations. I think the word has been misappropriated for more pejorative purposes. A life without some sort of submission would be lonely and cold, I believe.

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  4. As always, the post is a journey. I'm glad it ended up where it did--because as an occasional submitter of the writing sort, that's the first thing I thought of when I saw that word. And I know you're producing stuff worthy of submission and attention. I hope you will keep us posted!

    Of course, I submit (and have submitted) a gazillion other ways, too. I'm with you--no sense denying our dependence on one another. It's not energy efficient--I'm all about saving energy. Laziness can be a gift that way.

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    1. Thanks, MM. I will keep you posted if there's anything to post.
      I am with you about saving energy for more important things. Seems a waste of time to be upset about things that are just a part of life. Like laundry.

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  5. Exciting! Congratulations on working up the courage, I know it's hard. Keep writing, and keep submitting! :)

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  6. I'm with Judy. Submission quite often requires more strength and self control that not submitting. Submission is essential for good relationships and life itself. I think it takes courage to submit, in both cases of submitting. Good luck with whatever it may be that you are sending to the editor.

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    1. Well said Larissa! And thanks for the reminder, TangledLou, that sometimes it is better to submit to things like preschool parties. I have a few obligations lined up that I've been dreading submitting to, but this fresh perspective might help!

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    2. Well said, indeed, Larissa! And thank you for the good luck wishes.
      Cdnkaro - I constantly have to adjust my attitude about the things I commit to for the kids. I adore my kids and there are few people in the world with whom I would rather spend time. Quite the opposite is true of rooms full of their peers!

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  7. Larissa above puts it nicely. In order to give our kids some of the most enriching moments they may remember in their early lives, it is definitely necessary to submit in the way you describe. Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Thank you! A lot of what we do for kids isn't "fun" necessarily, but with a change of attitude, a lot of it becomes such a delight.

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  8. I think I actually feel something inside my head and face muscles contort in a complementary style when I submit. It's as if they lay backward a bit, tilt away from that which needs my energy and say, "I give...to you."

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    1. The very definition of a conscious, mindful act!

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  9. fyi;

    I am piecing together an ancient diary that i discovered among my effects relating to the wild mountain gerbil. I have beginning of the tale on my blog.

    submission relates to material one sends in, no.?

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    1. Most times, yes.
      I am waiting with bated breath for the wild mountain gerbil diaries.

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  10. I'll be honest, after years of growing up in oppressive church-iness, the word submission makes my skin crawl....but after reading this I can think of it in different ways. Thanks! And good luck! Submitting anything (even to my daughters critiquing eyes) is an act of strength.

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    1. I think submission is a much-maligned concept. Usually maligned by the folks who preach it the most. It gets confused with subservience, which is not the same thing. Also, in a "oppressive churchy" sort of context it is often misapplied by those who would like to dominate, as in: "You will submit to me!" but that sort of ignores the whole "walking in love" and "submitting yourselves to one another" thing.

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  11. A political note,

    I was born in Canada but moved to Switzerland many years ago. I am swiss now and my canadian passport has expired. I have not asked that I give up my citizenship however which makes me a coward in my heart of hearts. I can never go back to canada. Besides my wife is swiss.

    Canada has a queen you see and all of us, even if we are not british are required to submit. well in titular ways but we have to accept notions such as all land is owned by her and she sorts of leases this back to us. Our government is in her service as advisors although convention requires that she follow all decisions of parliament. All acts of state are in her name. She is the embodiment of canada. she is the legal personality of the state. There is no we the people or people vs garry ladouceur in canada. it is her majesty vs garry ladouceur there.

    Although I served this country in arms, i always struggled with this submission. So I acted. Now I am swiss and no man or woman is above me. It is a wonderfully liberating notion. Enough to see me off to my final days.

    pompous old twit no?

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    1. Possibly, yes. :) However, I have never been able to figure out the Canadians' relationship to the Queen. I'm very American that way.

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  12. In some circles, submission is the expression of trust, respect, and love. It's a beautiful gift.

    And Tangled Lou! You earned that nap! Congratulations on submitting your work.

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  13. Congratulations on your submission!

    I, too, have been learning about submission as of late. There's something about being in savasana and submitting one's body to the earth, letting go of "the ties that bind" in a muscular and mental sense. I can admit to occasionally submitting. I cannot, however, accept obeying anything but the law. And even that is a stretch on I-35 in central Texas with NO ONE around.

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