Some kind of surrender?

Does the secret to a good life lie in achieving the ideal balance between control and surrender?

Gentle reader: How much do you allow the element of randomness into your life? How much of your own life is about taking and maintaining control? How often do you let yourself let go? What’s the worst that could happen if you did?

I’ve always been a great believer in the power of the universe to provide. This blog is a very minor case in point. I never have a plan for what I want to write here. I wait until inspiration occurs. Inspiration always arrives in the most random of moments and from the most unexpected of sources. It can be a long time between posts. But if inspiration doesn’t arrive sooner, it will always arrive later.*

In a very small way, such trust in the inevitability of inspiration is a kind of surrender.

Finding the right place to be at any moment in your life


Every moment of our lives finds us at some point between control and surrender. I happened across this compelling idea via an extended Quietus interview with Brian Eno. He considers why gospel music speaks to him so. For Eno, gospel is about joyous surrender to a higher power (even if – as is the case for Eno – you’ve no belief in said higher power). It’s about letting go:

“Humans are good at two things: we’re good at controlling – we know that because of all our technologies and our ability to take over the world and fuck it up – but we’re also good at letting ourselves go and being carried along with things.”

He argues that surrendering, permitting a kind of randomness into your life, is a sensitive, intuitive and trusting response to what’s around you, to what’s beyond you:

“You have to stop trying to push the control button all the time. Ideally, what you’re doing on the axis between control and surrender is you’re finding the right place to be at any moment in your life. Sometimes you can take control, sometimes you can do precisely what you wanted to do without interference. There are lots of times in your life where that isn’t going to be possible so you have to have another strategy and that involves some kind of surrender.”

Strategies for surrender are what Eno’s approach to art and music has always been about. Cursed or blessed with a short attention span, Eno spends his life coming up with new ways to make things interesting. This involves embracing randomness, accident and surrender. I always think that The Great Curve by Talking Heads – produced by Eno – is a good example of this. With three different choruses sung simultaneously, it should be unlistenable chaos. But it isn’t. The elements combine into something extraordinary, trance-inducing and joyous.

Finding things by accident


“Finding things by accident is really difficult,” says Eno elsewhere in the Quietus piece. The easy and near universal digital availability of music ironically makes the truly random discovery of that tune that could change your way of thinking or even change your whole life that much harder. But it can still happen.

Eno shares a delightful story of hearing an unfamiliar piece of music drifting out from a North London kebab shop. So taken was he by the “erotic wobble” of the singer’s voice* that he investigated further. Learning from the kebab shop owner that this magical piece was from an unmarked CD containing thousands of unnamed music mp3 files, he persisted in his quest, eventually managing to haggle the kebab shop owner into parting with the CD:

“Can I buy the record from you?“ He didn’t want to sell it, you see, because it was the only music they had in the shop. So I gave him £55 for it. He saw a sucker [laughs].”

A sucker? Or a small price to pay for the joy of random discovery and of surrender to what the universe provides?

How can you permit randomness into your own life today?

What’s stopping you from letting go?May you be nothing but kind today, to others and to yourself.

May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.


* Perhaps illustrating Eno’s point about music now being too easy to get hold of, it was simplicity itself to find the selfsame song for which he’d had to haggle with our kebab shop proprietor friend. Was it too simple for me to find this piece, or is it a miracle of the modern age? Gentle reader: you decide.


  • Drawing, Seagull and Waves, Probably Prout’s Neck, Maine, 1890–1900 via Wikimedia Commons.
  • A really rather lovely flower, as photographed by MJCarty, Thursday 23 June 2022.
  • Alpine Heath-like Daisy – Flickr – pellaea via Wikimedia Commons.

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