One of the illusions about control is that many of us believe we can significantly alter or impact the natural flow of things, or as I like to say, “life’s natural currents.” This is why our friends or loved ones may refer to us as control freaks.
I write about the folly of control in Losing Control, Finding Serenity. In short,
The more we try to control others and things, the less control we really have over them.
That delightful philosopher, Alan Watts, forms the issue so eloquently in The Wisdom of Insecurity (Vintage Books, 1953), when he states,
“It must be obvious, from the start, that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity….”
This fundamental truth is expressed in different ways. Dr. Brad Zebrack, an Associate Professor at University of Michigan School of Social Work and a cancer survivor, speaks of it in terms of the impermanence of life. In a recent Huffington Post he writes,
“We wake each morning and count on the permanence of our surroundings. Our spouse or partner. Our parents. Our children…A morning cup of coffee or afternoon tea. The routines that get us through the day. This is called “taking life for granted.” Yet, impermanence surrounds us.”
Dr. Zebrack then explains how cancer survivors learn to experience the “realities of impermanence” and the importance of letting go of what they want and instead embracing “what is.” With little certainty in their world, they can only control such things as how they engage the world and how they claim their own story and ultimately themselves.
Yet, isn’t this true for all of us?
In a world that is in a constant state of flux, isn’t the only thing we really have meaningful control over is ourselves—for example, how we choose to engage people and things, to act and react to what is before us, and our attitudes and beliefs? Indeed,
Are not the desire to control and being part of an impermanent world irreconcilable?
What’s your view on control and impermanence? Do you find them contradictory? Is living life as control freaks realistic or possible? Please share your thoughts and experiences with me.
In the meantime, remember to
Let It Go–and Accept “What Is!”
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