Surrender, Dorothy

Barrett L. Dorko, P.T.


There is a distinct difference between your desire and your intention. When you desire something, you are attached to the outcome. Intention, on the other hand, is desire without any attachment to the outcome. You intend to do something, but you are no longer obsessed with the idea. By letting go of desire and by participating with detached involvement, you open yourself to infinite possibilities, allowing your destiny to unfold spontaneously- in tune with the fluidity of the cosmos.


From The Zen of Oz by Joey Green


More than anything, Dorothy wants to move her neck without pain. She�s scared to death to try, of course, and she�s told me how much it�s been hurting about six times during the first two minutes. Perhaps she thinks I�m deaf, but it�s more likely that this is her way of warning me not to hurt her further, and I struggle not to tell her to please be quiet for a while. Slowly, very slowly, I�ve learned to be patient with this kind of problem, and to listen more than talk. 

My job at this point is to somehow elicit movement from Dorothy that corrects the mechanical deformation responsible for her discomfort. When the patient is as scared as Dorothy, it makes no sense to push them at all, especially if you don�t know in which direction to go. Without any way of figuring this out, I have to depend upon the patient to move actively. This is the dilemma described by countless therapists when they say, �I can�t treat her. She just won�t relax.� 

This is where the distinction between desire and intention comes in. If the patient�s obsession with pain relief (their desire) remains foremost in their mind, the journey toward it will be full of uncertainty and false starts. Green�s point is that desire clouds our vision of the present and what it has to offer. I would say as well that desire interferes with naturally occurring instinctive movements that might not resemble the patient�s goal in any way. If restricted movement in one direction will only resolve with movement in the opposite direction, at least to begin with, desire will not allow its expression. Intention, as defined here, allows the patient to proceed with movements that might not directly lead them toward their goal, but keeps them moving toward correction just the same. If they relinquish their obsession with relief and free movement, that is, if they surrender, they will have a better chance of reaching their goal eventually. 

Green speaks of Dorothy�s successful movement back to Kansas as a series of surrenders. He points out that her early decision not to remain in Munchkinland, but rather to choose the tortuous path deeper into Oz is an excellent example of intention, not desire.  Finally, her last movement to Kansas is made clear, but only after she correctly answers questions about what she has learned. (Essentially that she already has all she needs in her own backyard) 

If I can get my Dorothy to attend to the movement in her own backyard, the stuff her body intends to do, and get her to focus on this and not some �miraculous� manipulation or rapid, active maneuver, she will display the qualities of surrender that precede the return to a familiar state. If I say when she first arrives, �You�re not in Kansas anymore,� she�ll probably agree, and, I hope, begin to follow the road home.