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Friday, June 29, 2012

Control Freaks Know How to Do It Better

I don't think of myself as a control freak. I mean, if I were, would that book, If You Don't Know Where You're Going, You'll Probably End Up Somewhere Else, keep popping up behind my eyes--ding!--like the dollar sign in an old-fashioned cash register? This book, by David Campbell, is still available, by the way. As I think I've mentioned before, my fancy prep school in Washington, DC, ran a career seminar for us seniors and gave us each a copy. I've never forgotten it. Apparently. Buy a copy and send it to an artsy, confused high school senior with low self-esteem and see how it helps her in life.

I don't think of myself as a control freak, because if I were, I'd have mastered all the concepts in that book and applied them to my life, which would have gone onward and upward from that moment in a blazing path of accomplishment. Ahem.

I don't think of myself as a control freak, because I know a lot of them, and they tend to accomplish things, whereas I get enmeshed in them. Novels, books, relationships, emotional states. And because they tend to be able to get people to listen to them.

I don't think of myself as a control freak, although I'm practically gnawing my hand off to stop myself from texting the upcoming 9th grader about her toe. Again. That would be the other hand, by the way, because one has already paid the price of my lack of control.

Why the agita over the toe? Long story, moral of which is, MOM WAS RIGHT BUT NO ONE LISTENED. Upshot of which is, 13 year old is away at an intensive ballet program with a hurt big toe and no one to make her ice it, check in with the nurse, or rest it if needed. By intensive I mean 5 weeks of dancing at least 5.5 hours a day, sometimes more, 5 days a week, plus Saturday mornings, just so you know I'm not exaggerating.

Oh yes, I am dying to get into the details of how it is I am so right and also so ignored, but never mind. I must take my victory as it comes: too late. I plan to lord it over the others if a similar situation arises in the future, but of course, as Samuel Johnson said, regret is useful if you can apply the lesson learned from it to the future, but you almost never can. Sigh.

So instead, I will ask myself, and you, readers, why I am not a control freak? Is it because I am unsure. Yes, I think that is it. I am unsure. Usually unsure. I see the virtues of several sides of a situation. I am unsure which path to take in the wood, so I hang around exploring the foliage at the nexxus instead of forging ahead boldly. I get a close up view of the flora that way, which is nice, but I'm not exactly blazing a trail, am I?

But then I must ask the follow-up question. If I were a control freak, would I be any better at getting the 13 year old to check in with the nurse, ice her toe, and exercise good judgement about how much she uses it? The long arm of Mother might reach a little further into her brain; but she is 13, and so are her friends, and she'd be bound to figure out that it really can't control her from New York State when she is in Pennsylvania.

The answer is no.

No, I can't control her. No, I can't control much of anything, in fact. And you know what, even if I did know where the heck I was going twenty (thirty?) years ago, I might've ended up somewhere else anyway.

Perhaps I am a spiritual master after all. That last paragraph, short as it is, contains wisdom, does it not? Perhaps I have trod the path of No-Path, which sounds pretty spiritual-master-ish, don't you think? Perhaps I have known, deep down inside some part of myself that I don't know anything about, that the path of life is uncontrollable and therefore counting the petals on the peonies is the best way to travel it, without aim or goal.

Perhaps this knowledge does exist, deep down in the recesses of myself, so deep down that I don't know it's there, and therefore can't access it. In which case, I might as well not know it--which I don't. Which means that I must struggle to forge and control, however poorly, a path through life. I can watch my control freak friends and try to learn from them.

Meanwhile, I will just finish up this other hand....

If I give you her number, will YOU text her? Just a little ice. 10 minutes. That's all. Just ice.

1 comment:

  1. She'll ice it. After all -- it's her toe, and she's the one it's hurting!