Hosted by Jodi Hildebrandt
This episode is part two of a two-episode series. Listen to part 1 >
In this episode, Jodi finishes telling a story about an out-of-control experience she had in the jungles of Guatemala, where fear and panic drove an overwhelming desire to control her experience. Surrender is the antidote to the illusion of control. Jodi explains how to surrender control, and shares how she endeavored to surrender her fear/control in Guatemala.
Episode 61: Terror & Surrender in the Jungle (Part 2)
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Good morning and welcome to ConneXions Classroom Podcast. I’m Jodi Hildebrandt and I am here on June 27th, 2015.
Welcome. If this is the first time you’ve joined us, welcome, glad to have you with us. A couple of announcements that I want to make before we talk about the follow-up to Terror and Control in The Jungle, is I want you all to know that because of your interest as ConneXions Classroom participants as far as listening to the podcasts, your interest in these podcasts, we’ve had thousands and thousands of people listen to these. And because of that, I have decided to write a book. It’s going to be a fairly short read, it’s about 150 pages. And it’s going to incorporate many of these principles that I’ve been talking about. I need your help. I need to do some market research, and so those of you who have listened to these podcasts and are finding fulfillment, finding some benefit, that they are blessing your life, I would appreciate if you would go onto the website which is www.connexionsclassroom.com and sign up for the newsletters or just give us your email so that when the book comes out, we can send you information about that.
Also, we do a monthly newsletter that we can send you as well, to give you information about things that will be changing here at ConneXions Classroom. We have a foundation and so as that gets up and running there’s going to be a lot of really neat information pertaining to the Foundation as it becomes more well-known in the world.
Also, if you wouldn’t mind sharing some of your stories. So, if these principles that you’re learning, you can see how they apply to your life and you want to share a story with me, I would really appreciate that because I’m going to need many, many stories to illustrate these principles.
One of the best ways that people learn is through telling stories. And so, if you have a particular story that you think is a really good example of principles of control, or codependency, or drama—everybody goes into drama, you probably all have great stories about drama—fear, anxiety. Any of those kinds of principles that we talk about here at ConneXions Podcast, please write us a handful of paragraphs and tell us about your story and how these principles fit into your everyday life. That would help us tremendously in order to be able to prepare this book and get it out to many more people who are in need of this information.
So, thank you for listening. Again, if this is your first time tuning in, I hope that you enjoy what you listen to. And if you are a return listener, thank you very much for your dedication and your interest in learning about these principles of honesty, and responsibility, and humility. Those principles are at the epicenter of everything that I teach here at ConneXions Classroom.
This upcoming podcast today is going to be talking about the antidote of control, which is surrender. Surrender is the anti-serum. It’s what helps us heal from this illusion that we… I chuckle because it’s an illusion that we can control things, which we actually cannot—but boy, we all try very hard to when we get into a fearful position.
So, I want to start this by reminding you about the first podcast, about terror and control in the jungle. I had gone to Guatemala and at this point in the story, I was in a little schoolhouse room that was made with mud and water—just clay walls. There was a metal siding for the roof that was being held in place with just big boulders, people had thrown boulders up on top of the roof to hold it in place.
These good size rats were dropping in from the ceiling and climbing up the walls, and they would drop into our room in the evening and scurry around. In my imagination, they sounded like miniature lions running around. I never saw them at this point, but again, I could imagine what they looked like.
As I continue the rest of the story, I will describe what they looked like because I had the opportunity to see one of them. I wish I wouldn’t have, because now it’s stuck in my mind for forever. It’s just another thing I get to practice surrendering.
So, let’s start right there and talk about what the act of surrender means. To capitulate, to yield to the power of something or another. That’s American Heritage Dictionary. Choosing to surrender is an act of maturity of soul and it creates wisdom. It endows a person with spiritual power, humility, and intuition when you learn how to surrender. Surrender is the opposite of control. Surrender means being willing to feel uncomfortable.
As I way laying there in my tent, I was beyond uncomfortable. I don’t think at that point in my life, I had ever experienced something so terrifying. Uncomfortable was not the right word. I felt literal terror. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that kind of fear in my life. Being completely out of control and not having any ability to stop what was going on.
So, surrender means being willing to let go and feel the emotion—feel the uncomfortable emotion. It means accepting the emotions that I feel and asking questions, like “What’s going on? Why am I afraid?” I’d already asked those questions of myself so I was pretty aware, but I was still in this illusion of thinking that I could control it.
So, surrender also means becoming curious about myself and my emotions to better appreciate the purpose for the presence. Surrender includes confidence that my emotional discomfort will be acknowledged, it will be addressed, validated, and I can let go of it.
The willingness to surrender is a gift that you give to yourself and to others. It is an act that is oftentimes a humbling one.
[7:10] Children & Surrender
And I just want to talk a little bit about why children respond really, really well to surrender. So, when children are born, they’re born without shame. And so, they have no problem surrendering. It is a very natural movement for them because they haven’t experienced fear, or mistrust, or hurt, or defense, or sadness. They haven’t experienced any of that, so there’s no reason to try to control it, because they don’t understand it. But as children grow and mature, they then experience hurts and traumas that create fears and wounds in them.
They experience disappointment, sadness. They can feel abandoned. They experience anger. They have expectations that don’t get met. They aren’t validated at times. Sometimes, they’re not allowed to express their emotions and so they experience life, basically. And as they experience life, some children experience a more unfortunate part of life than other children, depending on who is in their environment. But all children experience some form of those things I just talked about. And as they experience those things, they then start trying to control them. It’s a very natural human movement, to try to control things that are uncomfortable.
[00:11:11] Terror and Surrender in the Jungle
So, back to my story. The first two nights, I’d say I was completely in a state of trying to control. I kept thinking about ways to block the rats from coming in. I prayed. I cried. I attempted to think of ways to kind of shove some clothes up between the wall and the metal siding, but I didn’t have enough clothes to shove them in there, and if rats are anything like mice, they just kind of squeeze through other spaces that I probably couldn’t see with my own eye.
And so, that felt like that was impossible. Again, the more I tried to control it, the more I felt out of control. And so, this thought of surrendering was just a daunting thought. In fact, I don’t even think it came into my mind because I was so afraid and the fear was driving me to think of anything possible. I mean, I’m pretty clever about solving things. And I could not figure out how to stop these things from coming in at night. I mean, I even remember thinking I just wish it wouldn’t get dark. I mean, I just wish that it wouldn’t become nighttime because they didn’t show up in the day time. They only came in the evening.
And so, this act of surrender is a humbling one. It requires a person to let go and give up this illusion that they can control. I’ll tell you, reading that statement is so humbling, it’s sobering, and it’s upsetting to me, because “the act is a humbling one, it requires someone to let go and give up the illusion that you can control.” And that was exactly what was creating so much of my fear. These rats had not touched me, they had not injured me. It was all the fear that they might. It was the fear that they were going to somehow harm me, harm Robert, eat our food, somehow do some kind of irreparable damage to myself or someone else. And so, that was the illusion that I was trying to control, because the fact is that it hadn’t happened.
And so, if there’s one thing that we as humans don’t resonate with, it’s this feeling of being out of control—we do not like it. We like to know that when we go into an environment, we are in complete control of the temperature, and the lighting, and our comfortability, and the people in the room. We don’t resonate with feeling out of control. So, how paradoxical is it that in order to surrender, or in order to heal something, or to accept, or to be in Reality, one must accept the very Reality that we are constantly in an out of control state.
Again, that is very uncomfortable. The only things that we can control are our own thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and our choices. Those things. So, thoughts, feelings, and choices, that’s it. That’s all we can control. Everything else, we’re out of control with.
So, it’s a paradox that in order to surrender, I must accept the Reality that I’m constantly out of control. And that just is not a happy thought. I didn’t like thinking that there was no way that I could control those rats.
So, often we prefer to believe illusions of being in control even though we’re not, and that creates a conflict within our very essence and Reality when we choose not to accept the Reality of not being in charge. And that’s where the obsession comes in, trying to control. We’ve talked about that, that I have an experience, it creates fear and then I try to control the fear by becoming obsessive about control and trying to come up with ways in order to control this very thing that I’m completely out of control with. So, it feels really crazy-making.
One of the ways I tried to control was I talked to Robert. So, Robert was probably 78 or 79 years old, he was an older man, and he wore hearing aids. And so, I was trying to talk to him to control my fear, and he’s like, “Well it’s too bad you don’t have hearing aids, because I just turn off the hearing aids and then I don’t hear them, and I sleep like a baby.”
And I remember the second day—so they came in the first night and then the next day—I said to him what had happened and he was as validating as he knew how to be and he’s like, “Oh, well, I didn’t hear them because I didn’t have my hearing aids in and so I slept really well.” And then, that next night as it became dark, I was becoming panicked again and he’s like, “Well, it’s too bad you don’t have hearing aids because you could just turn them off and just sleep well like me.” And then, he just got in his tent and went to sleep.
And I’m like ahhh! I’m sitting here going how am I going to sleep? I can hear these things, I can hear every single movement of the whole jungle because I was so panicked and paranoid about every sound I heard.
[00:16:52] To Control is an Illusion
Let’s talk about that this ability to control other things is an illusion. As human beings, we don’t like the experience of being out of control and so it’s a paradox that in order for us to become humble and heal, we’ve got to accept that our lives are actually out of control except for those three things: our thoughts, our feelings, and our choices.
Being able to acknowledge and consent that we’re vulnerable and we have limitations is an act of mental, emotional, and spiritual surrender. Let me say that again. Super important. Acknowledging and consenting. The consenting part is the hard part for us. Probably most of us can acknowledge that we’re vulnerable and we have limitations. However, it’s really uncomfortable for us as humans to actually consent to them, to give ourselves into the Reality that those things are true.
And when we can do that, it is an act of mental, emotional, and spiritual surrender. In order to engage in an interdependent and inter-reliant relationship with a God or a Higher Power, we must recognize that we are responsible for four things inside the relationship with that Divine being. We’re responsible for our thoughts, our feelings, our choices, and our willingness to be responsible for our part of the outcomes of the three items that we just talked about—our thoughts, feelings, and choices—because every time we choose to have a thought, or a feeling, or a behavior, there are outcomes that come.
So, in order to be healthy and be mature as a human being, we must strive to live in a state of consistent surrender. Now, is it possible to be consistently surrendered? No, it’s not, because we have experiences that trigger us, that “cause” us to fear. And so, we jump into control, that’s just a part of our human experience. But it doesn’t mean we can’t practice going into surrender.
So, we get to constantly accept that we’re not in control and that we need emotional and spiritual nourishment. We need support, guidance, and direction from a God or a Higher Power every moment of our lives. As we endeavor to live in this type of consciousness, we endorse the following attributes.
- So, when we live like that, we endorse a willingness to be humble, to be vulnerable, to be open, be responsible for ourselves and not responsible for others.
- We are willing to endorse the following attributes of a willingness to make right what was wrong. For example, I’ll feel remorse, I’ll repent, I’ll feel some kind of restitution, and to give and receive forgiveness.
- I have a willingness to recognize my limitations and the limitations of others. So, basically, I recognize that we’re all human. A willingness to appreciate my and other’s humanness and the Realities of life.
So, when I live in this kind of surrender, this kind of consciousness, those are the attributes that I will be following. It’s a very compassionate way to live. Until I reach that point—which probably many of us struggle to stay even moments in that place of surrender.
[00:20:39] The Process of Surrender
Let’s talk about the process of surrender, like the process of surrender is a very concrete process in that there are certain steps of awareness and consciousness that must be acknowledged and followed.
The first step of surrender—this is the process of surrender—is to one, articulate what needs surrendering. For example, I need to surrender that I can’t control my dog barking. It’s a time of the year where I live where people light off a lot of fireworks and it scares my dog. And I can’t control her fear, and so when they start lighting those fireworks off, she starts barking. And so, yesterday, I had the opportunity to practice surrendering that I could not control her fear. I did what I could to make her comfortable but I couldn’t control it.
So, articulating the things that I need to surrender. So, as far as the story with the rats, there were many things that I needed to articulate to surrender. I needed to surrender that one, I couldn’t control the rats. That two, I couldn’t control whether they were going to harm me or anyone else. I couldn’t control the sunset, night coming. I couldn’t control whether they were going to get into our things. I couldn’t control whether they would bite through my tent. What I needed to surrender was that the people of the village felt like those rats were their friends, that they were sacred to them. I couldn’t control their perceptions.
That’s the first step in the process of surrender.
The second step is to feel the emotions attached to the thing I cannot control. So, the emotions that I felt by my dog barking last night were frustration because it was late at night, it was like 10:30, time to go to bed. I felt sadness for her because she was afraid and she didn’t know if she was in danger or not. Those were new sounds and they were really high-pitched and I think they were hurting her ears.
And so, the emotions I felt that were attached to the thing I couldn’t control in the story were many. I felt the emotion of incredible fear, like I said, it was panic. It was hysteria. I was feeling emotions of confusion the more tired I became; because I wasn’t sleeping in the evenings, I became more hysterical. I felt the emotion of panic, and worry, and high, high anxiety. I felt emotions of concern and some anger that Robert wasn’t really being affected by these things and I was. I was mad that he didn’t seem to really care how those things were affecting me.
I remember a couple of nights into it, he said, “I have some valium. Would you like to take it?” I’ll tell you a little bit about that in a minute. Just because I was so hysterical—to try to help me calm down.
Number three. Verbalize your emotions to another person who can witness your experience and validate you and how out of control you feel—or how not in control you are.
So, in the story, verbalizing my emotions, it was to Robert. I did share with him how I felt and like I said, he did the best he knew how, he really didn’t know how to validate, he hadn’t been taught that. And so, he just said I’m sorry that this is hard for you and then a couple of nights into it, he said can I give you some valium? That was one of the ways that he tried to validate me.
And so, I said a lot of prayers and I had a lot of thoughts just between myself and my Higher Power. And talked to some of the kids in the village and asked them how they managed the rats. And they said, “Oh, the rats come into our house all the time. We leave food out for them and they don’t bother us.”
It just made me more horrified as I heard that story. So, I really didn’t have any person to validate me. When we got off the mountain after the week or week-and-a-half we were there, I talked to the doctor that actually sent us up there. He lived in a larger town not in the jungles. And he was a little bit more validating, he said, “Yeah, sorry, I didn’t tell you about those. They are plentiful and yes, the people do feed them and they are their pets. You probably aren’t in any kind of danger because they get fed so much, and I can see why they would be really frightening.” And I was like, “Thank you. Thank for you acknowledging that I’m not nuts and that these things are very dangerous.” I said, “Do you know that they eat out of their rice supply?” And he goes, “I know. I’ve been trying to teach them for years that that’s not good for them but they have their traditions and they have their beliefs and nobody’s going to change their mind about that.”
Number four, think about what you can do within reason and follow through with all that you can do. So, for example, number four, what I did was trying to think of everything I could possibly do. So, I thought about shoving my clothes in those cracks from the wall to the roof. I thought about putting all the food into the metal suitcase so that they couldn’t smell it. I swept the floor with my hand. Obviously, we didn’t have a broom. I just cleaned up all the crumbs because I didn’t want to invite them into the room. We had some alcohol and so I spread alcohol on the floor to, one, disinfect the floor but also to encourage them not to come where we were. And I talked to the king of the village, seeing if there was any way that he could help the situation. And to my dismay, he was quite protective of the rats.
Number five. Make sure that you feel seen and heard—validated. And in order to feel seen and heard doesn’t mean someone has to agree with you. So, I already talked about this, this is kind of number three, getting some validation. Because there were just not people up there that got it, there was no one to help me feel seen or heard, so I just had to validate myself. And so, I took extra steps trying to discourage those things from coming into the schoolhouse. That was one way that I tried to validate myself.
And then, number six, surrender and let go of what you cannot control. And that’s where I failed miserably. I was not able on that trip to surrender and let go. I stayed in a constant state of fear and anxiety, and thus trying to control. And I was obsessive, and I wasn’t sleeping. And I did about three or four days in, I did take some valium, which was not the best thing for me to do, because I was tired but I was so afraid that I wouldn’t let myself sleep. And so then, because I had valium in my system, I couldn’t think, so I just felt disconnected from my body. And it made it even worse because I felt more panic because I felt like I couldn’t control what I was thinking. So, it just felt more frightening to me.
[00:28:48] The Cycle of Control
I want to spend just a moment talking about the cycle of control. You probably can hear as I’m talking about it what the cycle looks like. The first step is you have an experience. The second one is, you attempt to fulfill the need or the expectation that you have by looking for a connection to someone or something.
And that’s exactly what happened. I had an experience. I was having many. I was having thousands of experiences. But one of them was that rats were coming into this room—that was the experience. And then, I attempted to fulfill the need that I had which was to stop them. Or to fulfill the expectation that they would stop coming in, by looking for something or someone I could connect to, to help me.
That’s part of this control. And when I couldn’t find that, I controlled even more. So, then, step number three of the cycle of control says I begin to feel vulnerable and thus I feel emotions that are uncomfortable such as fear, anxiety, anger, panic, etc.
The uncomfortable feelings—step number four—I’m experiencing will oftentimes lead me into addictive thinking and behavior, that I need to control something or someone. Now, that doesn’t mean that you always go into addictive behavior, but it does mean that you will go into addictive thinking.
So, the obsession is the addictive thinking part. I could not stop thinking about, “Oh my goodness, it’s going to be dark in three hours, it’s going to be dark in two hours, it’s going to be dark in 10 minutes.” I was obsessing about how to control evening from coming and how to control those things from coming in the room, so I became very addictively caught in this thought process.
And so, sometimes when I feel so out of control for so long, like if that would have been a sustained experience where I could not get out of it, I’m sure I would have turned to some kind of addiction where not only am I thinking obsessively but then I’m behaving compulsively.
And so, I could have turned to alcohol, I could have turned to video games, I could have turned to sleeping incessantly because I believe—step number six—so step number five is I turn to a substance or activity that’s addictive.
Step number six is I believe that my addiction is satisfying the needs that were not previously met. So, when I engage in that kind of addictive behavior—alcohol or sleeping incessantly—then those feelings of fear go away. So it looks like what I’m engaging in is helping.
Step number seven says I become psychologically or physiologically hooked to the substance or the activity of the addiction. I have the illusion that I’m in control when I access my drug of choice.
Step number eight, once I’m addicted, I feel out of control often. I begin to isolate, disconnect, and withdraw. No one can reach me. My controlling behavior or my addiction increases my disconnectedness.
And then, step number nine, where I was originally seeking connection—which is back in steps 1, 2, and 3—I am now disconnected because of my controlling thoughts and behaviors. But really, I’m disconnected because I could not control my emotions, and so I engaged in controlling behavior which is the addiction.
Step number ten, I feel sad, lonely, isolated, and fearful, which drives me to want to connect. But because I don’t know how to connect without control, I react to the uncomfortable feelings by using more control.
So, that is the cycle of control, and it is incredibly powerful. And like I said, if I would have been in a sustained experience with those rats up there, like stayed up there for months and months, I probably would have turned to something to control it. I don’t know, maybe one of their wild plants they grew on the roadside that had some kind of peyote substance to it. Something. Because I’m sure they suck off of some plant that gets them a little high. Every little village up there has some kind of what they call medicinal plant or liquid that they ingest to numb pain.
So during this experience, I really had an opportunity to practice surrendering. And so, surrendering is about a choice that I make. Because surrender is such a challenging thing to do, it always gets set up, the ability to surrender is always being set up by the desire to control. And so, I always have a choice, I can either continue to choose to control or I can continue to choose to surrender. It is human to want to control and it takes incredible mental and emotional consciousness and discipline to not control, and to surrender.
We can trick ourselves into believing that we are surrendering when we’re really controlling. That is really again, a human thing to do. I could have, in that state I was in, if somebody would have come up there, I would have absolutely felt like I was surrendering things when I was trying to control them, like saying “I’m just trying to solve the problem.” But really, I couldn’t solve the problem. That’s how you know when you’re in control, is when you look at something and all of your attempts are not accomplishing what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, but then you just continue to attempt, you just won’t drop it. it just keeps coming up. You keep thinking about it.
So, the trick to surrender happens when we’re not conscious of our own self-serving and controlling motives or perceptions. We can be deceived or we can be tricked when we’re not conscious of what’s driving us—what our motivations are.
So, fear, and anger, and other uncomfortable emotions often lead us into controlling behavior. You can choose not to enter the dynamic of control even if you are triggered by any one of these uncomfortable emotions. And you can choose to surrender.
Surrendering is a choice. And it is imperative that you become familiar with the process so that you don’t knee-jerk into controlling behaviors. I definitely was knee-jerking and I was not conscious I was doing it because the fear was so intense. I had never been in an environment where I was in physical danger like that with an animal. I just had never experienced it and so it was a new experience. And remember, experience is neutral. it’s not there to hurt you.
However, that experience did not feel neutral to me. It felt like I absolutely needed to control it because the Truth was I could have been in danger. My physical body could have been in danger. Those things could have bit me, I could have gotten sick. But if you look at big, big picture, sometimes experiences in life do affect our physical body. And in order to be able to surrender and really get the big picture of surrender, you have to give up the illusion that you can control whether your physical body is going to be hurt or not. That there are some experiences in life where the physical body is injured and it still means that you can let go and surrender, because what you’re saying is, I will acknowledge that I am being physically hurt, and my spirit cannot be accessed, only my body can be accessed. I didn’t want to get sick, I didn’t want to be bit. However, not being able to get to a place where I can step back far enough and get out of that fear made it so that I could not see clearly. It made it so that I could not not be in control. I was trying so hard to control something that I couldn’t.
Choosing to empower yourself, choosing to be wise and mature, choosing to activate the process of surrender when you recognize that you’re out of control. Surrender is a natural state and a protective state if you will allow yourself to perceive it through that particular lens.
So, right here is where I want to enter the Serenity Prayer. I don’t know who wrote this, I don’t even think that anyone knows who wrote this. And if you do, I would love to know. If you know who wrote the Serenity Prayer, if you could send me their name I would really appreciate it. But every copy I’ve ever seen, it says author unknown.
The Serenity Prayer eloquently describes the act of surrender. When we control, we neglect the few things that we do have the ability to manage. And instead, we attempt to control anything and everything that we have no ability to manage. When we surrender, we begin to view ourselves and others in the proper perspective.
[00:38:05] The Serenity Prayer
So, the Serenity Prayer goes like this:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things that I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
So, another way to articulate Serenity Prayer is:
God, grant me the serenity to choose to accept the things I cannot change. To choose to accept. That’s literally what we’re doing, we’re choosing to accept the things we cannot change. There was no way I could stop or change the environment I was in.
To choose to have the courage to change the things I can.
And the outcome is wisdom to know the difference.
When you practice surrendering, your view of Truth becomes more clear. We gain wisdom and knowledge. We become more instinctively aware of what we can manage and what we can’t manage. And with that kind of clear vision of this Reality, you’re equipped to live life with peace and serenity.
Surrender, like I said, is this process, and it’s learning how to trust this process. The process requires consistent and active choices. Consistent and active choices to surrender. You recognize you’re out of control and that you need to let go of the outcomes of the situations and the uncomfortable experiences. You articulate what exactly you are letting go of and that you are not in control of it. And then, you imagine yourself handing that issue, that conflict, that emotion, whatever it is, to a God, or a Higher Power, or whatever represents peace to you.
So, it’s like, I had no one to validate me with what was going on in that experience and I couldn’t control it. And so, being able to recognize that I’m out of control, articulate exactly what I’m out of control with and I want to let go of. And then, I imagine myself handing these fears, these conflicts to God, a Higher Power, or whatever represents peace to you.
And then, saying to yourself, I can’t hold this, I can’t change it, and I need to let go of it. will you please take it?
And as you say that, I can’t hold this, I can’t change it, will you please take it, you’re breathing, and you’re very deliberately and consciously letting it go.
And around some things, you’re going to have to repeat those steps over and over again. You’re going to have to repeat them until you can release the thing, the emotion, the experience, whatever it is, and it stays away.
Now, you might have to do this for months, and months, and months, days, and days, and days. However, if you will continue to sincerely practice that, and really be honest about choosing to realize that you cannot control things.
[00:41:08] Terror and Surrender in the Jungle
I want to finish up with the story by telling you that I did come home after we were done with that experience, and I swore I would never go back. I think I was in a state of trauma for probably six months after that. I couldn’t sleep, I really couldn’t eat very well. I didn’t share it with a lot of people because I was concerned that I’d be teased. They weren’t really in the experience and so I didn’t really think they’d appreciate what kind of dire situation we were in, and how remote, and how primitive the environment was. And so, I kept it to myself which really wasn’t my best choice to do that. I didn’t know what I know now. I would not ever do that again.
But that actually made it worse because it just sat in my head and spun in my head. I swore I’d never go back.
Two years later, the same man—he was probably early eighties at this point—invited me to go back to Guatemala. There had been another request for us to come back and help the people. And I sincerely had to think about that. I wanted to go, I have a desire to support people, I love people, I want to help them in any capacity I can. And so, I thought about it and I decided to go. But this time, I was going to go in a surrendered position.
Now, that’s not the word I used. However, that’s what I was trying to do. And so, I knew that the rats were there and so I felt like I had kind of a heads-up. And so, in order to prepare to not be able to control the things I couldn’t control, and to control the things I could, I spent probably a month before we left and I called different entities. I called veterinarians. I called pet stores. I called the Division of Wildlife Department. And I asked my neighbors. I asked people who had been ranchers before.
Here was my statement and then my question. I said, “I am going to Guatemala and they have rats the size of small cats.” They’re like, “Oh my goodness, that’s really dangerous.” And then, they’d react and I’m like, “Yes, I know that.”
“And there’s no way to keep them from coming into the place we’re going to stay because we’re just staying in this makeshift schoolhouse and so I need to find a way to repel them.”
Every single one of those people, I probably talked to 20 plus people, every one of them said, “Why don’t you just kill them? Why would you want to repel them?”
I went into the story about the king and the people and how they were there friends and they were like, “Oh my gosh, do they know how unsanitary…? “
They all went into the same thing I went into which, even though it was two years later, was very validating for me. And only one person said, “I think I know how to repel them.” everybody else said, “I don’t know what you could do.”
Some people suggested alcohol. But this one person said, “I’m pretty sure that if you put this certain kind of salt around your tent and around the doorways, that they won’t come in.”
And I remember this person being pretty certain and so I felt a little trust in their certainty. And so, I went out and bought this specialty salt. I can’t even remember what it was called but it was a certain kind of salt. I smelled it and I was like, this smells like salt, I don’t know why this would repel them but they’re like, “Pretty sure that it will. I’ve never tried it on a rat but I know it repels,”—I think he said—“deer.”
And this other comment that people would make is, why are you going back there? Why are you going to put yourself in a situation where you’ve got this kind of big animals running around? I just kind of smiled and said well thank you, I appreciate your feedback.
And so, I went back. I think I had probably bought 10 bottles of this salt. Probably a fourth of my suitcase was filled up with this salt. I didn’t tell Robert that that’s what I was doing. And so, when I got there, I felt somewhat prepared, I’d brought some other things like some more Levi’s so that I could go to bed in my Levi’s. I think I only had one pair of Levi’s before. I brought boots so I could sleep in my boots. And I brought ski gloves so I could cover my hands.
So, I was doing everything I could to protect myself. I couldn’t bring an army tent because we had to fly it over in an airplane, so I had to still to bring my little nylon shear tent. But I did everything that I could. I brushed my teeth really well so that I’d have cool breath so that they wouldn’t smell any food on my breath. Trying at accept my environment and not be afraid.
I remember, I did ask Robert if he’d please bring some sleeping pills though, because I thought that would help me. I brought some ear plugs and I brought an iPod to listen to. Actually, they weren’t iPods, it was just my Walkman I think it was.
Unfortunately, the salt did not do anything. It didn’t stop them one iota. And when I showed Robert how much salt I had brought, he just laughed. He’s like, “Jodi…” I was trying to live in a state of surrender by accepting the things I couldn’t change and by engaging in something that I could change possibly, and then being willing just by my behavior of showing up and coming with you, was my willingness to say, I’ll accept whatever happens. I think I also brought a ski hat. You’ve got to remember, I went to Guatemala in the winter time here, in December. We went right after Christmas and we stayed through the first couple of weeks of January. And so, it was very hot there, it was the middle of their summer and I remember just sweating up a storm because the temperature in the evening was incredibly warm.
However, I did not feel the same kind of fear. I mean, they were still in our room but I did not fear them the way that I did before. And that particular trip, I did see one of them. I actually unzipped my tent. I was super-brave. And as I heard them running around in the room, I unzipped my tent and saw how big those things were. And if you could imagine a kitten with a big long tail, that was the size of these animals.
The other thing that we did is we brought metal suitcases so that they could not get into our suitcases and so we did not lose any food that time around.
So, that is the story of terror and control and surrender in the jungle. My hope is, is that I was able to articulate very clearly what control what looks like, what surrender looks like, as I interwove it in that storyline. And my hope is, is that you’ll look at your own experiences in life because all of us have these types of experiences where we feel an emotion and we try to control it.
And so, our charge is to learn that we’re feeling a particular emotion and recognize that we might be trying to control that emotion. And then, say that Serenity Prayer. Accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change, and let go of everything else.
I hope you enjoyed that story and we will talk to each other next week. So, between and the next time we talk, stay connected and think about your own life and how you have a propensity to go into control, and practice the power of surrendering. Take care. Bye bye.
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