Control

Excuse the writing theory for a minute…

Even in the business world, people talk about story.  It is all about being able to predict what comes next and (in fiction) enjoying the surprise when you have gotten lost in a red herring, but you suddenly arrive at the end and everything shifts into perspective and suddenly, all is clear.  For an example, look at Professor Snape.

We all like to be able to predict what comes next.  Even those surprises that we enjoy must have an antecedent.  We are most comfortable as readers and in our real lives when even the unpredictable can be revisited with an eye towards cause and effect.  Everything has to fit into the narrative framework.  Changes must be earned, there has to be a fall before we can rise.  It is intrinsic to our expectations of the world and our person-hood within the world.    We view our lives as narratives and (unfortunately) some of us hang on to those narratives with a death grip so tight that, when something comes along that doesn’t fit with our narrative, we excise it with a ruthlessness that is as unconscious as it is definitive.

And because we want to predict the outcome, we do what we can to establish control.  Some people turn to religion as a way to force their worlds into cause and effect.  I grew up with the type: if we just shut out enough of the larger world, than nothing bad will happen.  If we’re good enough, it will all be okay.  If we pray hard enough, we’ll be able to sway the future in our preferred direction.  There are a million ways we try to establish control.   (By the way, if you are trying to tie the book to a real-life experience, growing up in a conservative christian community is it.)

Me?  I’ve given up on thinking I can control the external world.  Instead, I’m trying hard to control myself.  How much external input am I willing to internalize?  How far under my skin will I allow someone to get?  How much distance can I put between myself and my attachment to the outcome, to my opinions?  How patient can I be when it comes to letting people and situations tell me what I need to know?  How much neutrality can I hold on to?  How far can I take the understanding that it just isn’t about me?

I like brie too much for anorexia.  I hate sweating too much to take on a marathon.  I think too much to get back into organized religion.  Nope, I’ll be over here trying to exert all the control I’ve got governing my little mental domain.

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Control

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