Sunday, September 15, 2013

Out of Control

If you've ever been on a camping trip with me, you know that there is a certain amount of, uh, direction that you are going to get. Put the tent here. Make it face this way so you get the morning sun/sunset/moonrise. Put this kind of yogurt on your granola. Use this hiking pole. Walk behind me. Walk in front of me. Choose a color of napkin. But don't choose the green one, that's mine. Any other color. Here, choose blue. Do you know why witch hazel is called witch hazel? Well be quiet while I tell you. Let's go on this trail until I decide to not be on this trail, then we will go on another trail and then later I will lament not finishing the other trail. When you sign up for a camping trip with DG, you sign up. You actually get a dossier with menus, itineraries, nearby sights, star charts, moonrise schedules, hiking options, printed maps, etc, etc. Be ready for near-daily e-mail updates regarding our upcoming adventure. It's a lot. A friend once called a trip we were on "a really well-planned, well-catered death march."

I get why I do it. It's all about control, an issue I have struggled with a lot. Even in social situations like dinner parties, I tend to go into "dance for Grandma" mode, where I try and be the "glue" that holds everyone together. It's not usually necessary; everyone in the room knows each other. But I want to control what's going on in the room, even if it isn't my party.  And sometimes that takes a lot of, uh, fuel.

One of the contradictions of the rehab process is this whole control thing. When I made the decision to go, I thought "oh, I am making this decision to be in control of my life." And then the first thing I noticed when I was there was that a large number of lessons and activities were about me relinquishing control, surrendering. The way those two conceptions of control brushed up against each other was eye-opening and it's something I'm working on. I am consciously avoiding social situations where there might be more than two or three people present out of fear that I'll start the darling pet monkey routine. I can't make the lady in front of me at the red-light go any faster when the light turns green. I just can't get upset about things I cannot control anymore.

So here's the thing. Let's say we go camping together sometime this fall. We might finish up our dinner and let the fire die down and lie down on our sleeping bags and look up at the night sky. I will know that we are looking at Camelopardalis the Giraffe and Auriga the Charioteer and Cassiopeia, the Queen of Ethiopia. You can just look at them without me telling you in excruciating detail what you are looking at. Unless you ask. I will have a star chart in the car.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

But, see, I understand that one can't make the lady at the red traffic light go any faster (or at all) but that's a bit different, in my book, than what you have described.

"I get why I do it. It's all about control"

I call it "know-it-all" syndrome and it's different from control. Because know-it-alls just know what is right and seek to lead in the correct direction. For me, it's more about being correct than it is about control. But, I guess that's my issue. I don't need to be in control; I just need to be right.

Maybe I am parsing too sharply. But, then, Warrens prefer to parse correctly.

September said...

DG you might be changing my life one post at a time! Love you! Thank you!

Leah Kenworthy said...

I would ask you about the constellations. And then I would tell you about the Aboriginal Australian's constellations.