What I learned on Surrender Avenue

From the driver’s seat of a U-Haul van, I watched the scorching black snake of highway crawl away across the desert ahead. Swirling dust devils on either side of the road matched the chaos of thoughts that swarmed in my head.

“Where am I going?” “Why am I doing this?”

“What will happen when I get there?”

That was August of 2009 and the road led to Austin, Texas. I was leaving a pile of broken dreams and heartache back in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. A life that once made sense was shattered beyond recognition. The home, reputation, and businesses I had built were all gone — blown away in the financial crisis that swept the world then. All that remained were the few household items we could fit into the small moving truck. My then-wife and three young children trailed behind in our car, and I was left alone with my thoughts and the hum of wheels on the road.

“What is going to happen to us?” I wondered again and again as the miles slid by.

Austin was a town I had visited just once before. I had no friends or contacts, no jobs waiting— nothing but an inner compass needle pointing in that direction. Before I left Boise, friends would come over to wish me well and ask, “So, what’s in Austin?”

I would give them my rehearsed answer with a grin of confidence I did not feel, “I’m going to hit the reset button. You know, write a new chapter in life.”

The truth was, I had no idea. I only hoped that my intuition was guiding me into something better than I left behind. It seemed that way, but the mirage lakes shining up ahead across the highway appeared real, too. Every time I let my mind glance at the uncertainties of our situation, my heart clenched tight in my chest and my stomach churned.

After several days of hard driving, we arrived in Austin, hot, exhausted, and wanting nothing more than home. Home was what we wanted, but this presented a serious problem. There we were in a strange city. School was about to start for the children, but we could not register them without a permanent address.

Since we had no jobs yet, every rental agent and apartment complex manager told us, “We’d love to help you, but there’s nothing we can do until you can prove your income.” Our cash reserves could not stand too many days at the Extended Stay hotel, but no easy solution showed itself. The kids played happily in the pool under the shade of a live oak tree while their mother and I huddled on deck chairs discussing our situation in desperate whispers. Later, eating deli food out of Styrofoam containers, we all watched movies and tried to pretend that everything was normal.

The next day found us in a parking lot in north Austin flipping through rental magazines. Not knowing why or what else to do, I told everyone to buckle up and started driving. The pressure of needing to come up with a solution—and fast—made a knot of fear inside me.

A mile passed on the parkway, and I felt an invisible presence at my shoulder. I don’t know who or what it was, but it brought a peaceful suggestion to my mind.

“Ask for what you need. You can trust right now. Just let go and let us help you. Surrender.”

I’ll never forget taking a deep breath and speaking silently to my Higher Self: “…you directed us to this place for reasons I still can’t see. I don’t have enough light for the path right now, but I surrender to your wisdom and ask for guidance at this moment.”

The next side street off the main road came up on the left and I felt that I should turn in. Just around the corner was a house that seemed perfect with a rental sign out front. It was a small brick home with a large tree casting shade on the lawn. The neighborhood was tidy and well-kept, built around a sprawling park in the center. The only barrier was our lack of jobs.

I called the out-of-state number on the sign and explained our situation honestly to the landlord. He agreed to work with us, and we moved in the next day. As I pulled the moving truck back into the little side street that led to our new neighborhood, I looked up at the green street sign.

My heart stopped for a beat or two when I saw the name of the road — SURRENDER AVE.

Actual picture of the street sign at Surrender Avenue


For almost three years, as long as we lived in Austin, I turned out of Surrender Avenue every day as I drove to work and was reminded that I can trust the wisdom and love of the Universe – even when times are frightening.

My situation did not get suddenly easier. The road to healing and stability took its time. I faced the reality of life without all the dreams and plans which had once motivated me. In fact, I was not sure that I would ever recover my basic optimism or the stamina that had fueled my previous achievements.

One step at a time, I found the gifts and wisdom hidden in those circumstances. A patched-together assembly of part-time jobs kept the bills paid and allowed enough space and time to give birth to my long-hidden dream of writing. It was there in a mostly vacant warehouse so desolate that even the spiders got discouraged and died that I wrote most of my first book.

Each day, with another forward step of honesty, the path rose to meet my feet in unexpected ways.

During that time, I learned to pay attention to the many subtle ways the Universe speaks, dropping clues and hints as It goes. New people and opportunities showed up as guides and teachers to help me find the way home to myself. A little at a time, life emerged from the valley of the shadow of death, and I discovered that surrender is not giving up at all. It is the doorway to true power.

These years later, after returning to my hometown nestled in the mountains of Idaho, if someone were to ask where some of the most important lessons of my life were learned, I would have to take out a map and point them to Surrender Avenue.

Copyright Heal + Create. All rights reserved.
Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby

Jacob Nordby is the author of The Divine Arsonist: A Tale of Awakening, and Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. His third book, The Creative Cure, was released by Hierophant Publishing in 2021 with a foreword by Julia Cameron. He is the co-founder of The Institute for Creative Living and also a highly introverted person who can often be found working in the quietest corner of some Boise coffee shop. Meet his on his website at www.JacobNordby.com.

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