Manning the Controls

View through the Glass Floor of the CN Tower i...

I have a confession to make.

But first, a little background.

Man, I love control.  I like to control situations, people, circumstances, the remote for the TV … anything.  Everything.  I love me some control, baby.  Whenever there’s a genuine, bona fide source of frustration in my life, I can probably trace it – if I put the effort into doing so – back to lack of control over something.  When I was younger, and in the middle of a separation from what would become my ex-wife, I went to pastoral counseling.  The man I counseled with told me that’s the primary reason people lose their temper, too – loss of control over something they want control over, be that a person, situation or object.  Car breaks down on the highway, makes you late for work, and what do you do?  Bang the steering wheel in frustration.  Doesn’t help the car, but makes you feel better, don’t it?  (Well, maybe not you, but certainly me.  Heh.)

I love control, yessirree.

But I have to confess something: I surrender a whole lot of control in my life.

Some things, I can’t control no matter how I try.  The weather.  Traffic.  Gas prices.  Rent.  The behavior and temperament of others … though sometimes I can have an influence on that.  Other things, I want to control, even if it’s not within my ability to at the moment.  When I have the chance, I’d like to take those bulls by the horns and steer ‘em.  My job situation, for one thing.  My income.  My living situation.   Those sorts of things I’m not able to change right now – haven’t been able to for years – but man, I’d really like to.

Still other things I can control, but don’t.  My weight.  Smoking.  My sleep patterns (especially now, when I’m out of work, and they’re completely wonky).  My language … I have a foul, foul mouth and despite being a writer, who should have a better arsenal of words to use, I just … don’t.

I surrender control in most of those areas because of laziness.  But sometimes, I surrender them because of fear.

I’m horribly acrophobic.  Can’t. Do. Heights.  Period.  I’ve tried to overcome it.  I’ve tried to confront it.  As I get older, it seems to be getting worse.  I surrender control there.  It stops me from going to amusement parks, hanging Christmas lights, taking a job as a painter, and tarring roofs.  I tried helping some friends paint their two-story farmhouse once years ago, and I couldn’t climb beyond the second scaffold platform.  I just couldn’t.  I’d lock up and not be able to move.  I couldn’t make myself climb.  I can’t be a line tech for the power company or do anything involving climbing to any significant height.  I just can’t do it.

But the control I surrender isn’t just limiting in some ways, it impacts my life in profound ways sometimes.  And it frustrates and angers me because I don’t like surrendering the control.

What about you?  What sorts of things are you frustrated by?  What things take control from you which you feel you should have?


All original content © 2009 DarcKnyt
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10 thoughts on “Manning the Controls

  1. Wow, what a hot button for me. We had a son die years ago of SIDS and I learned early that we really don’t have much control at all. In reality we can control our reactions and responses. We can hope to sway eventualities and opinions but there is often an exception floating around out there. Vying for the illusion of control seems to be a good way to stay motivated but I do best when I remember that it is an illusion. It allows me to continue with my Pollyanna beliefs without being completely destroyed when things don’t go as expected. If that doesn’t work, which is sometimes the case, I think back to the stories I have read and heard of others that had much beyond their control. I am always fascinated to hear about individuals that lived in labor/concentration camps and still maintained a level of joy in their lives. It’s a good reset for me.

    What a painful story. Thank you for sharing. The insight is stinging and poignant, too. Good reminder. We only imagine the level of control we think we have, and it’s wise to remember that.

  2. Control? What’s that?

    It’s sort of like “money” — that stuff I keep hearing about but can’t ever find. Like leprechauns and the Loch Ness Monster, if you want my opinion. Which you don’t, but got it anyway.

  3. I grew up with and married a control freak so I’m pretty much a live and let live person. If something goes wrong in my life I either ride it out or think it’s God’s way of saying I need to take stock of my life. Car breaks down? Maybe I was going to die in a horrible accident and it was avoided. Missed a flight? Maybe there is something I need to see in the airport. Got fired? It’s time for a new opportunity. For me, all of life’s inconveniences are a message I need to look around and see what’s happening.

    I’m probably too immediate for this, but it sounds like a good thing to try. On the other hand, you have to admit, sometimes sh*t happens.

    I must admit, though, as I get older I’m afraid of heights as well. Or maybe it’s reality…if I fall, I will get hurt and who’s going to pay the bills?

    True enough! 😀

  4. I’m terrified of heights too. I once completely ‘froze’ on top of Stone Mountain, that big granite thingie near Atlanta. I was okay on the Skylift trip to the top (think cable car) but once I got there I took one step outside the station and turned into jelly after seeing the view. Nah uh, no way was I going to risk my life on top of some huge granite outcropping. I think it’s because of my vivid imagination. I could just see myself slipping on some gravel (does granite even MAKE gravel?), picking up speed as I slid down the dome, busting through the flimsy snow fence cum ‘don’t fall off the mountain’ restraints, and hurtle to my death whilst passing the largest bas relief in the world. I’d *so* be on YouTube.

    I’ve been to Stone Mountain (lived in Georgia for a time), but I don’t remember being scared up there. My dad almost drove us off the cliff looking at it and pointing to stuff, and that gave me a rousing fit of giggles. True story. But I don’t remember the top. Might be because I was too scared to get near it.

    This whole baby thing has taught me that I’m definitely not in control, at least not for now. Jaymie has gone through my biggest, most terrifying, ‘please-don’t-let-it-happen-to-me’, heartrending fear: SIDS. I’ve done everything I can do to try to prevent it, but there’s just not enough information on why it happens. I find myself checking on her in the middle of the night just to make sure she’s sleeping, but know that I’m just along for the ride and not driving the bus on that one.

    I’m with you on this one. I sweated bullets for the first year, year and a half with each of the kids. Fal tried to tell me to relax, but I just couldn’t.

    My mom’s a control freak (as in made me cry at my baby shower and changed my wedding cake order without telling me kinda control freak). I hope Mallory never comes to see me in that light. There are certain things I freak out about for cleanliness reasons, “Dammit! Don’t use the same plate for the cooked burgers that you took the raw ones out there on!” but other than that I’m pretty easygoing. Right, honey? 🙂

    ICK! Are you SERIOUS?? Who’d do that?? But to have your daughter see you differently … do things differently. 😉 It’s pretty simple. Just not EASY.


  5. Life was chaotic enough in my childhood that I like control now. Sometimes that is bad and sometimes good. I don’t do well with sudden change–if I feel that the change could have been avoided. Natural change — like the weather — doesn’t bother me too much. But at the same time, once I chose to leave home and I chose the college and all that, I have felt better about my life. I mean, I know that where I am now — for better or worse — has a lot to do with me and not with my parents. I get the credit and the blame and I’m so happy with that.

    I can understand that. Although I still grouse about the weather. 😉

    No you can’t control life and death and unemployment and myriad things, but controlling what I can — what a relief.

    I’m sure it’s a blessing. I’ve not known it in a long time. But life’s not over yet; there’s still time. 🙂

    I love heights, but have arachnophobia. It is one reason I’ll never go camping.

    I’m arachnophobic too. So’s my wife. You’re in good company.

  6. k…a few things I had to bang my head to stay awake for this one… up control is rough. To alot of folks they cant give up control cause it means they have no control of their destiny or future and that is just to scary for some. Overcoming fears i.e. heights, is one way to surrender control in alot of ways it helps you move forward and become bolder and take on more challenging things in your life. And when were you going to be a painter???? sorry didnt see that coming I dont know you but i dont get the painter vibe. Anyways you are my friend and i hope someday you can overcome your fears and unlock the things that make people great inside of you…you can be a great anything just TAKE A CHANCE!! Zman sends with respect

    Thanks for the encouragement, Zman, I appreciate it!

  7. I used to be a horrific control freak but have calmed down quite a bit. I think reading a lot of spiritual books (not religious) has helped me immensely. When I think of the things that I could control — if I wanted to — those things would be smoking and just getting into better physical shape. The thing is, I don’t think I really WANT to do these things or I would. Somewhere there is a disconnect in my head that keeps me in a steady stream of sweet denial — despite the fact that I have family members who have complications due to unhealthy habits. So I guess now that I think about it, it’s the denial I can’t control.

    Excellent insight. I think I may have to add that to my list of control-captors. Denial.

    Great topic for a post.

    Thanks. 🙂

  8. These days I don’t try too hard to be in control. It doesn’t work. When a situation is out of my control, I turn it over to God and get on with my life. That works just fine. 🙂

    That last part — that sounds dreamy. I wish I could learn the particulars of doing that. I can SAY I’m turning it over to Him, but in the end, I just end up continuing to worry about it.

  9. “I surrender control in most of those areas because of laziness.”

    I know how you feel. We are similar people. 🙂

    🙂 Well, it’s nice to know I’m keeping good company.

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