Surrender Collapse | A Great Power to Create

My cat was just sitting there on the rock wall between my driveway and the kids’ playground on the side of our house. She wasn’t hunting. She was just sitting there, not doing anything. 

What struck me at that moment was that she didn’t seem worried about anything at all. Her mind seemed vacant. Her presence, I imagined, was on the way the breeze was ruffling her fur or the way the leaves of the trees were singing with the birds.

What a mess we have made of our minds. All the fretting, worrying, concerning, deliberating, and thinking about that goes on behind our eyes and between our ears is an unfortunate byproduct of what has made us capable of almost all we can do that cats cannot.  Her mind is still, but she can’t exactly whip up a badass chicken tikka, pilot a plane, or find a cure for cancer. 

While the cost of the power of thought is a life riddled with thinking, I’m not so sure it’s black and white. In other words, I’m not so certain that to leverage the immense power of thinking, one must live under the paralyzing duress of always analyzing. 

In a dreamlike state of journaling recently, a phrase came to me that I have hung on the whiteboard in my studio, in a short and unexplained Facebook post, in my journal daily, and in the front of my mind.

“Surrender collapse and let the wave carry you.”

Like many phrases that appear when I’m writing not as an author, but as a servant to something greater than me, it came to me despite my pure lack of understanding as to what it meant.  When it came, I just wrote it down, like a good student and then went to task on making sense of it. 

“Surrendering reason” is a short phrase I have been focused on and referencing for the past year or so, as a means of liberating myself from that which obfuscates my trust and faith in some greater orienting possibility in my daily life. So this new insight was clearly a riff on that.

But ‘collapse’ in personal and spiritual growth is commonly used to represent a falling apart of the structure that holds energy. To collapse, in this context, is to ‘give up’. When I have worked with men who have been holding back tears, I have invited them to ‘cry like a man’, by distinguishing the possibility of tears streaming down one’s face whilst at the same time holding the chin high and maintaining eye contact.  To avert one’s gaze and lower the chin would be to collapse in the emotion. This didn’t feel like the kind of ‘collapse’ the insight received was referring to. 

“…and let the wave carry you.”

That was the key. This was a reference not to waves as a surfing metaphor, but to the waves I learned about when studying Quantum Mechanics over 20 years ago. 

In Quantum Mechanics, there is a concept called ‘collapse of the wave function’. 

The wave function is essentially a line graph that plots the probability of an outcome. For example, when I open the ‘Find My Friends’ app on my phone, there is about a 40% probability I’ll see my Dad at his first home in Rhode Island, a 40% probability I’ll see that he is at his second home in Florida, a 10% probability I’ll see him at my sister’s house in Boston, a 5% possibility I’ll see him out on the ocean on his boat somewhere, and following that all the other places he could possibly be on earth or even in the universe would have their correlating % change of possibility. These could all be plotted like a wave on a graph.

What we refer to in Quantum Mechanics when we say ‘collapse of the wave function’ is the effect that observing or measuring has on the quantum system. In quantum mechanics, it is understood that a particle is nowhere in particular until it is measured. It exists only as a possibility with differing probabilities at each location.  The parallel in my example would be that my father is nowhere at all until the moment I open my app and look for his location. At that moment, the wave of possibilities would collapse into one specific location. 

In seeing this it hit me then that to ‘surrender collapse’, was to surrender (aka ‘give up’) observing and measuring and instead allow everything to stay as an undecided possibility spread across a myriad of possibilities, like a wave.

One practice I have that expresses this is not opening an email with words on something I’m endeavoring to create unless my way of being is positively oriented. I live in the mythos (or reality) that what’s in the email sitting in my inbox at that moment exists only a possibility and that it is in my observing it (opening it and reading it) that collapses the infinite into the finite. Furthermore, I bring to this the perspective that my way of being in the moment I open the app or the email plays a role in where my father ends up being and what the email ends up saying. 

This is indeed a magical way of living and the fun thing about it is that it can’t be proven or disproven. 

For the most part, we go about our lives believing that everything is already there, whether we observe it or not. We are certain that trees fall in the woods when nobody is there. 

This certainty though is itself a collapse of the infinite into a finite. 

To surrender collapse and let the wave carry you is not only an existential upgrade for those interested in freedom and magic, it is also a practical means of orienting around any endeavor of creation.

Even more pragmatically, I have been ‘surrendering collapse’ by not concerning myself with the outcome of my actions before, while, and after I take them. We all know the futility of being overly focused on the outcome during the work that will get us there, but the specific modalities of outcome focus called ‘observing’ and ‘measuring’, which are the orientations responsible for collapse in quantum mechanics give me a very clear and useful awareness of what NOT to do.

By inviting myself to not measure my efficacy or progress, I am liberated to remain in action. It’s uncanny how much time we can waste thinking about whether what we might do, are doing, or did will get us where we want to go. 

By reminding myself to not even observe where I am in relationship to my outcome, by not looking at the distance between me and it, then I am not only free to remain in action, but I am open to the outcome being or becoming something other than I had decided it to be. 

There is a usefulness, for sure, in having an idea about where we are going. But I’m starting to doubt whether its utility extends beyond producing a compulsion to get into action itself. Once in action, in the absence of an observation of how near we are to the predetermined outcome, we find ourselves in service of possibilities far greater than we could imagine. 

What if, also, our way of being in this action is consequential on where we end up? Not just in the sense of how likely we are to reach our stated goal, but even better, how likely we are to end up somewhere much less probable. 

What if by not measuring and not observing and instead being in action giving, asking, and receiving, we affect the system in a way that the email hails a glorious and unexpected “YES!” and in opening the app, we find that Dad is on the moon?

It’s unlikely, but it could happen. 

I’m not saying sit around waiting and wishing. I’m saying get on with creating and all the action that gives life to that, but do so with a fully surrendered collapse.

At the very least, the experience of creating in surrender is more magical, relaxed, fun, and fulfilling.  This way of being alone is advantageous in that it makes you magnetic, creative, receptive, open, opportunistic, confident, courageous and influential. 

And since we can’t prove that the bus was there before it turned the corner and came into view, maybe you’ve got even more power to create than you’re certain you do.

Loving us all, JPM