Control: An Excavation

It’s quite easy to just put the notion out there, that you are in complete and utter control of your destiny, without really thinking too much about the implications. I have scribbled those very words upon this virtual journal of mine on more than one occasion, so I thought I’d delve a little deeper.

First off, it’s true. You and you alone are in control, and it is terrifying. When you first hear it you might think, Oh yeah, that sounds great. I can control what happens in my life. But do you really want that for yourself? Because it also means that you are in complete control of your life. And maybe you don’t want to take on that degree of responsibilty, for obvious reasons.

So, what’s the alternative? Live a life controlled by somebody (or something) else? Take a backseat approach to living? No thanks.

Then the next question arises, one of how? It’s not straightforward that’s for sure; it’s not just a matter of taking the proverbial reins. You are an intricate and deeply complicated being that is yet to be fully explored and cannot be fully comprehended. You can’t just turn around and say to yourself, OK, I’m going to start taking control now. How can you, if you don’t fully understand what you’re controlling? (As it happens, the moment you feel like you fully understand everything about yourself and the world, is the very moment the rug gets pulled out from under your feet.)

That being said, the process of coming to the realisation, and of making the statement, is a very good start. Telling yourself consciously and with conviction that you are going to start taking steps towards sorting your life out, and realigning yourself along the path, is the first crucial step.

It doesn’t end there. On the contrary, it’s a constant process of reflection. It takes a consistent level of astute awareness in the moment, and it involves being 100% honest with yourself at all times. It might sound like an awful amount of effort on your part, and you may be thinking Ah fuck that, I’m happy enough here in the back seat. The thing is though, it will feel effortless. Blissful even.

Certainly there will be testing times, and moments of incredible difficulty- because life is difficult- but in coming through those hardships, while realising that you were in control the entire time, you will experience immense spiritual growth.

And again, what’s the alternative?

It’s also worth mentioning that it doesn’t just mean taking control of your actions, which believe it or not is the easy part. It’s also about taking control of the intangibles; your thoughts and feelings. I know it’s virtually impossible to control every thought and feeling, especially since some thoughts we don’t even know we have until they have been and gone, and other thoughts can appear so preposterous that you immediately question if they even belong to you.

I had this conversation recently with Tiny, that if someone was to actually get inside our heads and have a wander around, they would think we were absolutely nuts. And it’s true, some thoughts are just downright demented. So no, it’s not possible to control the conception of our thoughts and feelings, but we can in some sense control how we react to them.

Let me give you an example. Have you ever had the experience of a seed of a thought snowballing? You’re taking a leisurely stroll into town one day, blissfully oblivious, and maybe you catch a whiff of a familiar scent. It reminds you of a certain someone, and you smile. You suddenly feel a pang of regret for something you said or did (or didn’t say or do) some months or years previous. Half an hour later you find yourself curled up on the couch in the foetal position, hugging a pillow looking at old photos; it’s 3 o’ clock in the afternoon, the curtains are drawn, the room is dark, and Paolo Nutini is playing on repeat. That’s the snowball effect.

Hypothetically speaking, of course…

So we can in some sense control our reactions, but it’s incredibly difficult. This is where the awareness comes in. If you aren’t aware of the nature of the thoughts and feelings as they manifest, it can be nigh-on impossible to negate the snowball effect as it gains momentum; it has to be stopped at the source.

How can we remain aware in the moment? Well, that’s a tough one too. One sure fire way to cloud awareness, is to do what we do all day every day; bury our heads in a screen and scroll incessantly, flooding the senses with mindless you-know-what. I’m no expert, but I’ve found that meditation certainly helps. A run in nature is always top of my list if I can manage it. Anything that facilitates a quietening of the mind, whilst providing some headspace and repose to reflect and be still, to really listen. That I suppose, would be the general rule of thumb.

Alas, the coffee is running low, and the candle wax is starting to glaze the surface of my bedside locker, so I guess this would be as good a time as any to wrap up this particular contemplation.

There are things we can control and things we can’t, that’s for sure. So why take a hold of those reins? A good way to look at it is that in doing so, you take preventative action against the slow and subtle decline into chaos, which can happen at any time and in an instant if you’re not careful.

Another way to look at it, is that you consciously realign yourself with your true being, you start to manifest in the world as nature intended; truthfully and with purpose. It’s not easy- it’s downright terrifying- but make no mistake about it, it’s an absolute necessity.

Or else of course, there’s always the backseat.