Control is a natural mechanism of survival and wellbeing. Why otherwise would we subject ourselves to restraint? Even the animals do it as they learned from their past experience what works and what does not. Lions wait patiently for their prey to come closer, their lust understands the reward’s allure. A squirrel teases a snack on your park bench luncheon in a shy cum daring series of approaches until it gets what it wants — that crumble of your sandwich.
Still, control is about more than just a survival necessity, at least for humans. Emotions can derail us and we need to cope. Particularly, the irrational can be rather frustrating when it does not originate from you. If you are the creator of the incomprehensible as is the case in art, then it is magical. When I write poetry, I cease any control whatsoever. That which results might be incomprehensible to the bare eye, but when you ponder it further or life presents you with some challenge, suddenly the light sparks bright.
There is further the question of fragility as opposed to unity. Even though they are not necessarily the opposites and can be present in each other, unity assumes strength while fragility weakness. Therefore, control is about maintaining the strength through unity, not separating from the whole.
Still, we do not always take the lessons from our past mindfully and seriously into the present. Plus, some of us are more inclined to strict control due to our insecurities. These are even sadistic extremists in need of having the guiding force entirely in their own hands. No sharing is possible for such megalomaniacs’ and authoritarian partners’ grip to power. Even in the everyday management of house and people. Being in charge of unpredictable others can breed anxiety in a perfectionist. Awareness and empathy help. When someone does not perform to your expectations, rather try to teach them calmly and patiently first, and if it fails a number of times switch. Nobody has equal standards and we cannot expect for others to be in tune with our demands and even wishes that nobody can see in every aspect of existence.
Others are more relaxed about wielding influence over their inner and outer reality. These are open creative minds, intuitive individuals, with generous hearts and liberal spirits. The invention, the new, the arts, they rely on ceasing control. Most discoveries, even some ground-breaking findings arrived purely by accident happening usually out of one’s control. My idea of creativity is that there are no rules. This boundlessness opens the gates to infinite possibilities that do not harm because it is just art.
The loose grip does not mean that they seek no leash on our (I shall disclose my own leaning) lives. Some direction is needed to float through life as harmlessly as one can. When the wellbeing of others is concerned, one must consider the consequences of one’s behaviour before it is too late. And this is not an easy feat. The pandemic had taken us through muddy responsibility when our behaviour could cause death or contribute to other’s sanity. Passion blinds us to danger. One must balance the scales between longing for adventure, liberty and mindful selfless consideration. Even liberty-seekers need some sense of control for grounding.
In any case, we shall practice mental control. Over millennia many techniques were conjured to curb our racing appetites and minds – fasting, martial arts, yoga, meditation, pranayama, auto-suggestive training, and other modes of desired direction used by top athletes for example. I use multiple disciplines for increasing but also for loosening my control, as I believe it is important to know how to go in either direction, to regulate rather than stipulate only one way. Inflexibility is the most inhuman, robotic behaviour and mindset. I have devised rather unusual control-liberating activity — my analog photography. I refused to learn the technical side. I just allow the results to surprise me. I feel the light in the moment when I decide to snap and all the rest is up to serendipity. I allow for the magic to manifest.
Paul Valéry, the Franco-Italian poet, grappled art first with his perfectionist sense of poetry and above all his acceptance of being totally freed from his ambitions. Via inquiry into other arts and science, he found the middle ground through a personal crisis of intellect and sentiment. His further studies of the sciences and integrating them within his poetic form resolved his dilemma. Unity won over fragility.
Beyond the rational, there are some outer and inner aspects of being human that are extremely challenging to be tamed. Extremes are clear in their intentions, but the peace keepers, the harmony influencers have the toughest job of all. Psychologically as well physically. Their path can be conflicting.
Suffering and liberty are related beyond their antagonistic aspect. Our desires and dreams can make us suffer as well as express the inner seeking of freedom. It is natural, yet our cultural and social rules and taboos complicate this equation. One’s sense of dignity and pride are affected. Judgement shall be relinquished for the sanity of humanity.
Connecting the invisible with the easily perceivable, control is often beyond our power but mindfulness can guide us to the areas of our life we indeed can influence. Perhaps the most important is that this is meaningful, otherwise ego-driven pursuits of directing events and people our way are unethical. Use control when you can for your and our shared benefit, that is a sum of what I wanted to convey above. This requires deep thought, but sometimes just pure trust in intuition.