Control and money. Two things that we all want more of, but can’t seem to get enough of to ever be satisfied. That’s where the similarities between the two end. With money, we can pretty well tell just how much (or little) we really have. A quick glance at a bank statement, or online will let us know just how rich (or poor) we are. With control on the other hand, we tend to fool ourselves on a fairly regular basis about how much we have. Do I need a statement to tell me this? No. I can tell you that it amounts to zero. Control over what? you may ask. (Or you may not ask. You may have gotten here searching for information about the late 70’s band Styx by searching “grand illusion,” and were deposited here. Welcome.)
Anyway, I am talking about control over anything and everything external. Hell, except for our own minds, what do we really have control over in this life? And even the mind ends up being a full time plus job just to maintain any control over, or so eight years of meditation are slowly teaching me. My mantra as of late has been “Control is an illusion.” I realize that I can repeat that a thousand times a day, and it still does not make it any easier to swallow. But here is the thing – I have no choice. It is what it is. We can look at it as a weight that is taken off our shoulders when we realize that so much is ultimately out of our hands. However, that didn’t stop me the other day from starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all.
I am currently in the midst of dealing with a certain major life situation and I am finding myself struggling and balking in the face of a multitude of circumstances piling up that truly have no control over. I started reciting the aforementioned mantra, trying to accept what I could not change, blah blah blah. I noticed I started feeling really angry. I pushed back from my task at hand, and just sat with my anger. All of a sudden, like a bolt from the sky, a voice in my head screamed out, “I REALLY FUCKIN” HATE THAT I HAVE NO CONTROL!” Funny enough, with that acknowledgment came a sweet moment of liberation. My anger dissipated, and I actually felt a lot better. Go figure. So, in the mean time, I just try to do my best by myself and by others, and keep moving forward. The other day, I was looking through an old journal and found this tidbit of profundity, written in response to a death I was in the midst of processing:
Life is a dynamic process, always moving, ever-changing, and constantly flowing. Everything – both externally and internally – is ever-changing, at once living and dying. Nothing is permanent; nothing lasts forever. Even our bodies are largely beyond our control. We become ill, we age and eventually we die. Like water flowing, our world is moving all around us. Any attempt to grasp hold of anything inevitably fails. In trying to exert control over our surroundings, we create friction, stress and problems. It simply is not natural. Varying degrees of chaos exist constantly. We are surrounded by it. By surrendering our attempts to control, ultimately surrendering to the flow, we free up the energy and the power to work with, utilize, and ultimately transform the one part of our lives and world we do have at least some control over – our minds.