19 March 2009

It's All About Control

Tonight's prelude begins HERE.

One of my favorite shows, other than Battlestar Galactica (which ends tomorrow!!), is Damages. It's got Glenn Close, lots of drama, and it's essentially the story of a whole lot of people with control issues.

Lawyers are particularly good at control issues. Not surprisingly, the lawyers in this show find that they are most often pitched in mortal combat with business people--the only other discipline in our economic and social system that fetishizes control.

I am not a lawyer.

I'll be honest, though: I'm crazy about control. As Janet says: "It's all about control."

She's right. Control, or our lack of it--MY lack of it--is the permeating theme of this portion of my life. My Saturn has returned, with a terrible vengeance. And he left my childhood in his wake. My adulthood--these last couple years, let's say--have been about understanding what I control.

The illusion of control is something that my friends (particularly Diabolina ) have needled me with for years. According to their "wisdom", we have no control over most of our lives. We cannot control the actions of others, or how politics shape up, or how the economy progresses. We cannot control other drivers on the road, nor can we control what people say, nor can we control time, nor aging, nor the movement of markets.

To this I say: "Whatever."

I have made a monument to control in my heart. I seek it, and where it does not come naturally, I force it. When something important happens that is ultimately beyond my control (see Prop 8), I am sent into a tailspin, as I realize that the illusion of my control is in fact an illusion.

In a bitter twist of irony, the few things I actually CAN control (my reactions, my thoughts, my actions, my words, and even to some degree my feelings) are not controlled at all. This is simple: I spend so much energy focusing on the things I can't control that I ignore the things I can.

It is a viscious cycle.

Others have struggled with control. They are usually villians.

Scrooge controlled money, and didn't control the holidays.

Sauron and that damn ring were all about control, to his ruin.

Maleficent wanted control over a kingdom, but more importantly over other people's babies.

Dracula could control people with his mind!

Stalin, like the rest of the totalitarian dictators, wanted to control everything--especially how he was perceived.

We love to loathe controlling villians. They're so easy to misunderstand and so easy to hate. But generally, they are also pretty clear in what they want. But BEING controlled by others taps into our innate fears of losing our individual power. Though my friends have it right--control is often an illusion--control can often be all too real.

I can control whether I trade a stock or not. I cannot control the outcome. But that doesn't mean that I'm off the hook; afterall, if I've screwed up the part I CAN control, then there is all kinds of opportunity for beating myself up when it blows up in my face. There's also all kinds of opportunity for misery in bemoaning the things I can't control.

That's how the tyranny of control works; it distorts the mind, and convinces an otherwise rational Crow that the following logical path is true: There are things I can control; if I can control one thing, then I should be able to control everything; I can't possibly control everything; I must be a failure. The feeling of failure (I know it well) leads to a desire to control more, and the cycle perpetuates.

Like those Chinese finger traps, control is difficult to escape if you don't know the secret.

And I'll be honest, dear Reader, I don't have the faintest idea how to get out of this finger trap. And in a world like today's, that is making this Crow VERY unhappy.

The journey to let go of control is probably amusing to the outsider. It culminated last night with my return to the practise of yoga. Those of you who do yoga will know that at the beginning of each class, you are often reminded to "set your intention". This is your guiding thought for the hour and a half you will spend sweating, and hurting, and breathing, and trying to stay "present". My intention was simple: I'm going to be nice to myself for the next hour and a half.

Believe it or not (I hardly do), but I succeeded! The problem was that the moment shivasana ended, I was right back to telling myself some pretty unkind things, and berating myself for not having adequately controlled the stock market, the housing market, my family relations, my reaction to events, my reaction to all the things I hadn't controlled, et al. Pretty dark. So, I did what most poeple do in that situation: I found the closest people to me, and picked a fight.

Not bright.

On reflection, I think that much of this comes back to Janet, and to her assertion that it's all about control.

And as I bring this little blog entry to a close, dear Reader, I assure you: I'm trying very hard to learn about control before it gets...well, before it gets control over me.


WeezerMonkey said...

The answer to the Chinese finger trap is "a friend with scissors."

I am no good with control issues. I should not be a lawyer.

But we all knew that already.

Diabolina Da Fashionista said...

you certainly have masterful control over the english language.


amber said...

This is a pretty beautiful post for a sad topic. I hope you're able to work it all out. Hang in there and keep being nice to yourself.

...love Maegan said...

Diabolina sent me over here as a response to my "control" post. . .I think there are some things you can control and some you can't but when you feel like others have made decisions for and about your life and they are not what you want, it's frustrating and leaves you feeling helpless ...and I don't like it one bit.