There is a place for everything
and everything should be in its place.
Dinner comes before dessert.
Drinks served before dinner.
Jumpers should be folded.
Shirts should be hung.
Socks must be matching.
Shoes lined up beside the door.
Switches should be off when not in use.
Curtains should be drawn after the sun sets.
I find peace in rules and order.
I find rest in the harmony of precision.
There is no clutter I cannot tidy up.
No chaos I cannot return to calm.
But my rules they are a prison.
I am chained to them in fear.
Because I hate what is uncertain.
And I hide from what is not clear.
One of the most infuriating realities to stumble upon is a reminder of our lack of control.
We merrily amble through life, foolishly believing that we hold all of the keys to our future and we are in charge. But every now and then this fantasy is disrupted by an unfortunate event which leaves us teetering on our tiptoes.
With just a single phone call, a simple conversation, an unexpected, interruptance to our day we find ourselves very much in circumstances out of our control and it is utterly unnerving.
I find it particularly distressing as I am a grade A, run-of-the-mill, control freak.
I crave order, productivity and common sense. I am highly strung and up tight as they come. I need plans and certainty and I don’t work well if boundaries and guidelines aren’t clear.
I hate that off-kilter feeling that comes with wading into the unknown.
It has been a slow process but I am finally discovering how to let go of control and make peace with uncertainty.
I am learning how to delegate.
Because I can’t take responsibility for everything, I simply do not have the time nor energy. I know now that I really do need help and asking for it really isn’t as difficult as I once thought.
And when I do pass on the baton to someone else I am trying my best to release my grip completely. Forgoing the temptation to demand the task be done MY WAY.
So what if the potato wedges are cut thicker than I would have done them? Who cares if the laundry detergent is orange blossom scented instead of lavender?
I can see how silly it is to get caught up in the nitty-gritty details of life when the help I receive is worth so much more than the perfection I seek.
I am learning to be less possessive of the things that I own.
To share what I have with a generous spirit and to bite my tongue rather than remind the person to take great care with whatever it is that I loan them.
And when something breaks as it inevitably does, I am learning the art of shrugging my shoulders and saying, ‘oh well, it’s okay. Mistakes happen.’
Because things are not what are most important…people are.
I am learning how to go with the flow.
To appreciate that not everything need be done in a rush. Not every hour need be productive. Not every task need be completed today, THIS VERY MINUTE OR ELSE.
Taking the time to appreciate my coffee instead of gulping it down. Being flexible when people change plans. Accepting apologies and extending grace. These things are a sign of maturity.
See, I am learning to let go of control.
I am un-clenching my fists and extending open palms.
I am making peace with uncertainty.
Art and creativity have been healing for me.
There is nothing safe or certain when it comes to art. We often start creating without a plan or picture of where we are heading. The pieces fall into place as our paintbrushes strike the canvas and our fingers stroke the keys.
Perhaps this is why creating feels so risky to me. Every time I am breaking myself open and waiting to see what spills out.
It’s daunting even without an audience, but with a thousand eyes on me the feeling can be described as nothing short of terrifying.
Writing is painful in ways I cannot even express but it has cured me of my need for control.
Because as a writer I sometimes feel that I am under a spell. I am simply a messenger and how and when the words choose to come forth are not up to me.
There are days when I would love to publish something but try as I might, I cannot write a single word. And then almost arbitrarily there are days where I wake up before the sun and I’ve got so many ideas my fingers can hardly type them up fast enough.
So I have learnt that pressuring myself to write is no use. It’s as fruitless as trying to push toothpaste back into a tube once it has all been squeezed out.
Within all of us there is this pull to take control. A natural instinct that beckons us to bow to fear and wrestle for the reins.
But evolution calls for adaptability. There is no space for inflexibility.
To keep moving forwards we must let go of the monkey bars behind us. We must swing forward, stretch out a hand and hope with all of our hearts that someone thought to build another bar after the last.
It seems absurd and careless at times but in truth, abandoning the need for control is the most freeing feeling in the world.