My original title for this entry was, “Control Revisited, Day Four. By the end of my written meditation, a visual came into my mind that I am sharing with you at the end of this article. For some reason, control is the one thing I think about more than anything. I am totally convinced that control is one of the biggest parts of our lives. I really wonder how many people are aware of the power and influence that control has in their lives. It is a two pronged item, one being the control that others and situations have on us and the other being our need for control to satisfy our own needs.
I think learning to deal with both aspects of control is so important to much of our happiness. When it is a situation of the control that life and people have over us, it is important to be aware of it and to be able to manage to be happy with it and in spite of it. There are so many things over which we have absolutely no control. Not realizing it often makes us unbearably unhappy, on the other hand, being aware of it can allow for complete happiness, if we are so inclined. It is so important to be able to objectively look at life situations and to say to oneself, “I cannot do anything about that, I need to modify my needs and/or compromise my wants.” Tragedies, deaths, catastrophes are all things over which we often have no control. We need to deal with them and move on. This is not to say that we should see things occurring and just lie down on the train tracks and wait for the locomotive to arrive, but it means that we must recognize when our actions will have no import over them. I firmly believe that too many people just don’t get this concept. Thinking with a clear mind and trying to visualize the total picture helps so much in terms of understanding what we can and cannot change. I recall in my teaching career the rabidity with which certain people would demand things that would directly impact my life. Sometimes, they were just stupidly annoying as I could see that these demands were nothing more than people trying to satisfy their own egos and not really concerned with the students they were serving. I realized that battles must be chosen carefully. If the students were to be negatively affected by the needs of these individuals then I would allow my hackles to rise and prepare for a battle. On the other hand, if the effect on the others was negligible and/or unimportant, and it was just the others’ inherent needs to satisfy themselves, sometimes I just let it be. The fight is not always worth it. Being able to recognize the feelings and needs behind their motivation is oh so important and thus allowed me to decide what to do, to move on, and to let go of my need for control.
I like to think that I can recognize my need for control and to deal with it appropriately. It is not always easy to let go, but once again, if you can objectively look at the situation, it is easier to do. When something is really important for you, it is certainly harder to let go. It is important, however, to see the total picture so that you can make a decision.
Control came to mind today as I fight my need to control as we are in day four of my so called Daddy Boot Camp. I am a parent, a father, and I so want to take matters into my own hands and “heal and make appropriate changes” in my son’s situation. He is an adult. I can offer counsel if he wants it, I can give my opinion, when necessary, but in the end I have absolutely no control. It is this acknowledgement that made me realize that locking the wine and other alcoholic beverages away is nothing more than a silly idea. It is not that I want to make my son’s life and choices difficult but I am aware that no matter what I do, that these choices are going to jump out at him in every aspect of his life. What I can do is support, be there for him, and do my best to try and be aware of all that I can do to appropriately help him as he and I, along with the rest of the family, recover from this unexpected (to me) nightmare. I had a glass of wine last night, he even cooked with wine and I couldn’t help but think, “Am I doing the right thing?” I keep returning to the idea that honestly I have no control and although there are things that I should and need to do, there are also things that I might do just to satisfy my own need to control, but that it might be nothing more than a negative.
One of my pet peeves in life is seeing people who “Grab defeat from the jaws of victory,” my own switch of a well known statement. It makes me want to cry when I see people, and I have seen them in my classroom, among my peers, and in my family, take what seems to be a perfectly wonderful life and situation, not be able to see it clearly, and make the decisions that will inevitably negatively impact them and their lives. It makes you want to take them and give them a whack on the side of their heads. I realize that that will not work. If they cannot see it, they are going to have to live with their decisions. I guess I am saying I find it hard to relate to the people who continually see the glass half empty. I myself have been there but I didn’t enjoy that philosophy so I fought my nature and did my utmost to see things otherwise. I also realized that anger and negativity works against us in a destructive fashion most of the time, I would much rather take the anger and use it in a positive way, to get something beneficial. Although I try to do this, I still fall victim to holding, what my wife calls, “grudges” that I hold on to tenaciously. I tend to see this differently. I don’t see them so much as grudges, per se, but as situations where someone has perhaps treated me a certain way, I deal with it, but I am never, ever going to allow it to occur in the future and I thus “write them off.”
Yesterday started out a bit rough from poor sleep for Mikey, but today is better, he realizes that without drugs that his fast metabolism needs to be properly stoked at night so that his body has enough protein to calmly get through the night. My home made granola spiked with some chocolate apparently fits that bill and he just came down to tell me that he had a much better night. I hope that this is a sign of where the recovery is, but I reminded him that he may still have bouts of less than perfect sleep and that he has to be prepared for this.
Once again, we had good communications about all sorts of issues, from his recovery to his plans for the future and bit by bit we are piecing the puzzle pieces together to make good use of our time. Not that I had huge plans on my mind for what I am doing at present, but I feel somewhat like my life is on hold. It is easy for me to see that the loss of my full time job to the recession may well have been a good thing. I am able to do so many things we could not otherwise do. Being here for Mikey is one of them and I thank my lucky stars that I am able to do this. Life is so interesting, it is an amazing journey.
I so want to be able to wave my magic wand and make everything perfect, assure myself that my sons are all on positive journeys and happy. Coming back to the control issue, I realize again that my input into that situation was when the boys were younger and that now I have a much lesser role. As a parent, however, we so want to be able to make positive changes for people, especially when it is clear to us about what needs to be done. I know that we cannot change and/or repair people. My biggest disappointment in teaching that I learned early on is that there are people we cannot reach, cannot help, and that we are forced so often to stand by the sidelines and watch as we see them flounder. That is the way it is. I recall the hurt when a student would complain to me that I wasn’t meeting his/her needs and even more hurt when he/she would say something to the effect that I didn’t like him/her. That cut to the quick. You just cannot reach everyone, no matter how hard you try.
I also keep coming back to my philosophy that no matter how bad a situation is, that there is something good that can be taken from it. That is always the case. It is purely a question of how we view things.
I have not mentioned anything this year about New Year’s resolutions. I seriously do have a few, but overall I have one major one, and that is to be the best person I can be, to be there for everyone in whatever way I can, and to realize that sometimes I just have absolutely no control and I just have to accept. So be it.
Years ago, Mikey got a hold of a magic marker. He took a jar of skin cream that he needed for some reason at the time, and wrote on it of his own volition, “Life is good.” He was and is oh so right. We saved that jar, relegating it to a spot in a bathroom cabinet. We couldn’t let go of it and the Koerner family needs to take a long look at it and absorb its message. We just all need to recognize it and make the best of what we are given and do our utmost to give back.