If you grew up in the 80’s like me, you remember Corey Hart and his “Boy in the Box” album, which for me came in the form of a cassette. I played it so much that the tape practically dissolved. Ok, fine, I admit it; I had a crush on Corey and yes, one or two posters of him adorned my wall. His Boy in the Box tour was my first concert ever, and although I was seated so far away I couldn’t see him, it was an event I’ll never forget. My mom, my sister and I at the old Forum in Montreal…So many great songs; “Everything in my Heart”, “Eurasian Eyes”, and of course, the subject of this post, “Never Surrender”.
Listening to Never Surrender as a kid, I understood the general message of the song, but I had no idea what “surrender” meant. French was my first language growing up, and this was the first time I was hearing the word “surrender”. It sounded strange to me at first, but I came to associate it with the meaning Corey gave it in the song, which is “to give up”. The actual meaning of the word according to Merriam-Webster is “to give oneself up into the power of another”. Surrendering can indeed imply giving up in certain contexts, such as in a war, for example: “surrendering to the enemy”. Waving the white flag is sometimes the only thing to do.
Corey was in fact telling us to not give up the fight. Don’t lose hope, persevere, keep going. Let’s take a look at the lyrics:
Just a little more time is all we’re asking for
Cause just a little more time could open closing doors
Just a little uncertainty can bring you down
And nobody wants to know you now
And nobody wants to show you how
So if you’re lost and on your own
You can never surrender
And if your path won’t lead you home
You can never surrender
And when the night is cold and dark
You can see, you can see light
Cause no one can take away your right
To fight and never surrender
With a little perseverance you can get things done
Without the blind adherence that has conquered some
It’s clear that Corey wanted us to know that we can do it, that in the worst of times we can choose to hang on and that it is our right to do so. I love the message and I love him for instilling it in me at such a young age. This message has its rightful place. With the eyes and mind of an adult though, and with much life experience to prove it to me, I see the true meaning of surrender as a letting go, a faithful ability to trust and to relax into something greater than yourself. Merriam-Webster’s definition is not far from what I experience as surrender, but “to give oneself up” to another power implies giving up in a defeatist manner and on the contrary, to truly surrender in the highest sense of the word means to give oneself “over” and not “up”. When you give yourself over to a greater power, the only Power that really exists, the Divine, you are releasing the illusion that you have control over matter. You are saying “God”, or “Universe” (or whatever term you like to refer to a spiritual substance that is the Source of all), “Here I am. I turn myself over to you. I can’t do this on my own. I don’t want to do this on my own. I need help. I’m willing to see things more clearly. I’m handing the reigns over to you. Your will be done.” This doesn’t mean we sit back and never take action. It means we take action without resistance. We choose to flow down the stream instead of frantically forcing ourselves against the current.
At first you may come to these kinds of surrender prayers because you feel beaten down by life, are in crisis, exhausted or ill. Surrendering feels like your last resort. You have nothing to lose, right? But things don’t have to be bad before you choose to practice surrender (and like anything, it is a practice). You can choose to live your life in a perpetual state of surrender, which feels light and even blissful. You’ve offloaded the responsibility for your life into hands of the One who knows your needs. You’ve remembered who is and has always been in charge, and so you go about your life relaxed and open to whatever comes up. You realize that the Power to which you’re surrendering is actually in you, and you defer to it whenever conflict or crisis presents itself. Soon you notice that the more you live in a surrendered state, the less conflict and crisis appears.
Corey, I thank you for teaching me to fight and persevere. There’s actually no better message I needed to hear at that time in my life. It gave me strength and courage. But today, I choose to “Always Surrender”. I don’t want to fight, I don’t want to struggle through challenges. I want to let go and let myself be guided through life by the undercurrent of peace which is present even when the night is cold and dark. You see, the path always does lead home, because Home is in me, and it is in you, too.