Giving it Up is Not Giving Up

An earthquake, a hurricane, and terrorist threats have been the subjects of the majority of our conversations these last few weeks.

This, combined with the strange lassitude + high anxiety mix brought on by the close of summer (I have to do everything! I’m exhausted from doing it all…) has many of us heading into September without that “back to school” bounce in our step we often feel this time of year.

Instead, by my reckoning, most of us are toggling back and forth between low-grade depression (how can I control things??) and low-grade panic (but I have to control things!!)

I dig. I’m in the spiral, too.

What I’ve discovered—or let’s say re-discovered, because this seems to be the lesson we get to learn over and over—is that any control I thought I had before was just an illusion, anyway, so what have I really lost?

That said, there are some activities that serve to foster my illusion of control and I find it’s helpful to cling vigorously to these during times of duress.

What kinds of things am I talking about?

Well, any kind of cleaning activity is guaranteed to calm—whether that’s as small as cleaning the lint trap on my dryer, or as seemingly onerous as vacuuming my car.

Though many of my friends find it hilarious, I find going to the dump is a guaranteed pleaser. I mean, you’re supposed to throw things…where’s the downside?

Finally, you can just brush your teeth. Truly. I mean, have you ever in your life brushed your teeth and said, “Gosh, I wish I hadn’t done that…” It’s simply not possible.

And as you do (or choose not to do) any of these activities, you can recognize that giving up a sense of control is not the same as giving up on being in charge.

After all, you are the one making the choice to relinquish the illusion. You are in control of your feeling of being out of control.

You might also be inspired by the words of the great American writer Harold Brodkey who said, “I distrust summaries, any kind of gliding through time, any too great a claim that one is in control….I admire the authority of being on one’s knees in front of the event.”

The authority of being on one’s knees….I love that.

Frances Cole Jones