Friday, September 17, 2010
Day #24: Control....I surrender.
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
We all want control. Whether we'd like to admit it or not, there is within each and every one of us a little control freak biting and scratching to get out. Now, some of us have allowed the control freak to escape, while others of us keep it hang-cuffed to our inner being, reserving the key to unlock the cuffs when necessary. This isn't to say control is bad. What is bad is when we try to control everything, particularly the things that are completely and utterly uncontrollable. This is when the need for precision, perfection, and restraint consumes us, and prohibits us from enjoying the spontaneity of life.
I am, or should I say, WAS the one who let her inner freak dominate. "Hello, my name is Michelle, and I am a control-a-holic.....hi, Michelle!" Everything I did and aspired to do came down to one thing, having complete control over the situation. Part of me can understand why I developed this inexplicable desire to keep everything tightly under my numb. You see, there has been so many surprises, the tragic ones in particular, in my life that have driven me to seek control so that I can prevent anymore disappointment and heartache. The problem is in trying to control things that just simply cannot be controlled. It's like playing a game you will never win, or searching for a secret that does not exist. The real power comes in learning how to let go, and relinquishing and expelling the inner control freak.
Some things, of course, require control...bills, assignments, your own actions...these are all within our control. However, we cannot control other people, particularly the actions of other people, the happenings of the universe, and above all...the weather! Ha ha!! In all seriousness, I am not saying that everything should be laissez faire, what am I saying is that in order to live a happy life, we have to accept that there are just things that must happen despite all the intervention in the world. Whether you believe things are predestined, or that everything happens by coincidence, regardless, there is no control when it comes to many of life's milestones....birth, love, tragedy, miracles, and death.
Dr. Lee Lipsenthal, an internist, researcher, and author wrote that you cannot know the outcome of events in your life, only that we can base choices on our own projection, and hope for the best. He paraphrased an old Chinese story in a recent posting, retold by Eckhard Tolle. "A man wins a new car in a lottery. All his friends tell him how lucky he is. His only response is "maybe". A few weeks later, he has an accident in the new car and ends up in the hospital. His friends tell him that it is a tragedy. His response is "maybe". While he is in the hospital there is a nighttime electrical fire in his house. If he were there, he surely would have died. His friends tell him how lucky he is. His response is "maybe". The point of the story is that things can continue to go on and on, and despite our best attempts at control,we really don't know what will happen.
Dr. Lipsenthal recommends that we live our lives guided by what socially, and morally works for each of us, knowing that we did all that we could do..."tried well, loved well, and served well." He conjectures that acceptance along with gratitude on a daily basis allows us to make everyday a good day, making the journey of life less predictable, but with more fun and more spontaneity then we could every imagine. So live with purpose, but more importantly learn to bend and twist with the change of the winds of life. You never know, what you thought should be, but what ends up being may turn out one hundred times better than you could have ever imagined.
"As I started to picture the trees in the storm, the answer began to dawn on me. The trees in the storm don't try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go. Those trees and those branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break. Now is not the time for you to be strong, Julia, or you, too, will break."
-- Julia Butterfly Hill