Sundry Posts

Illusions of Control

Friday Five: Living with Ambiguity

 If you are like me, keeping life under control is one of your goals. At this moment in my life, things feel pretty out of control and I am struggling to regain the control I always thought I had. I believe that most of us struggle with this every day.

We decide what we eat and wear, what kind of phone to have or car to drive. We work to make sure things fit onto the neat little pegs we’ve decided on. Even in our relationships, we work to make sure we have control of something or someone, such as the cap on the toothpaste or who does the dishes on what night. Making life work is all about the control we have over it.

Until that day comes when there is no control.

Until the day, we realize that control is an illusion.

This is a lesson I tend to forget. I kid myself into believing that I am working on my “control issues.” Some days, I even believe this is true. But this is also an illusion.

It isn’t just having control of things that is an illusion, it is the belief that we can let go of this need to control.

I believe that the need to control our lives is very human. This is one way we’ve survived for millennia.

We couldn’t control the elements so we moved into caves. The weather got cold, and we built fires. Getting around with animal power was too slow so we created machines that move us along the ground and through the air. This need to control our lives continues to this day.

Since we’ve very firmly established through previous posts that I believe that life is about lessons and everything is repeated until we learn what we need to learn, I’ve come around to control again.

At this moment, I am waiting. Waiting for changes and decisions, of which I have no control over. Yet, I am still sitting here wanting to shake someone to say, “come on, do something already.” I still have not learned this lesson of the illusion of control.

If I had my way, there would be no waiting, I would have what I need to function normally, except that is an illusion also. There is no normal. And, I wouldn’t need to go through the pain of learning to live without the answers, without control, again.

There is pain in this learning of the lesson again. It seems that the more I am forced to repeat a lesson, the more pain there is.

You see, I also believe the outcome is inevitable, it has already been decided. No amount of fretting or worry will change what will happen. It is a matter of waiting. And I’m not very patient.

This post was supposed to be a Friday Five so here I go with some things I will be doing to help deal with learning this annoying lesson again:

1. Attending a 1-year-old’s birthday party. It is impossible to worry when you see a little one covered in cake.

2. Writing – I intend to write whenever I have spare moments. Not that this alleviates my anxiousness or my need for control, it does, however, make me feel as if I’ve made progress.

3. Organization – I began some organizing projects in my house a few weeks ago which will continue, again. Regardless of the whatever happens in my life, this still needs to be done.

4. Attacking the weeds – This year my husband and I didn’t grow a garden, however, what we did grow was a large, healthy batch of weeds. As I am getting ready for company, the weeds need to go, or at least be beaten back enough that the yard doesn’t look like a jungle.

5. Breathe – Yes, this is a bit redundant. We breathe every day, it is necessary for life and we do it unconsciously. What I had in mind was the conscious breathing that makes me step back and not get caught up in all the external happenings in my life.

A friend of mine likes to ask me: “can you live with ambiguity?” Usually, my answer is some kind of grumble because I know she is right. I just don’t want her to be. The fact that she has to repeat it should be my first clue that I haven’t learned the lesson.

I often repeat the mantra “it is what it is.” I even try to live every day like that. Being human, I tend to slip just a bit on occasion. Well, the truth be told, more than a bit.

This week, I will take up this mantra again. I will remember to breathe and that life will continue regardless of what will happen in the future. For me, this is the only way to get through each day.

“It is what it is.”


  • Debra Cook

    Yes, my brother also likes the phrase “it is what it is” but there is a little addition to that I like to remind him of and that is “but it will be what you make of it.” Sort of makes me think that we may have some control after all.