(Out of) Control

We have control over nothing. We know this.control

All we have is the illusion of control. We wrap it around us like a comforter. It’s a way we survive. But it’s still just an illusion.

Take our children as an example. We can throw a kicking toddler over our shoulder and extricate his or her feral madness from the grocery store. We can briefly guide the flow. But our children are their own unwieldy beasts with their own fire and their own lives to chase down. They are forces of nature far greater than our influence or even our love. We are merely temporary stewards.

We control nothing. We know this.

But sometimes we forget.

Control is a slightly distasteful word. It conjures up the image of a clenched fist or a stern face or a tight bun lacquered in hair product. Yet every single day, we grasp for it; we eat smaller portions, buy the right shoes, take the back road or practice another hour. We are hedging our bets against ambiguity. But ultimately, we are only making choices. There is no such thing as control.

All I know is that I don’t know anything. Every step forward is merely an exercise in speculation. Everything is hazy to me, except feelings. Feelings are sharp and clear and elegant and deep. They pull us in and wash over us. We are powerless to control them. We can only choose how we think about them.

We control nothing. This is either gloomy or liberating, depending on your sensibility.

Life is a wild tangle of challenge and change, unknowns and questions. Someone falls asleep at the wheel. She stares at you silently for as long as she damn well pleases. There is an inexplicable numbness in your fingers. Loved ones disappear forever, in one fashion or another. Conversely, the call finally comes through. He sweetly slips his arm around your waist. The unexpected burst of morning light, with its perfect gradation from amber to peach, mesmerizes and delights you. Our lack of control can bewilder us. It can also fill us up completely.

I believe we try our best, even if our impact is uncertain. Expectations are juxtaposed with truth. Outcomes are stubbornly unpredictable. Impermanence pulses in the background.

And so we tumble on with what time we have left and whatever wisdom we can muster.