control… an oh so elusive thing
I’ve been thinking a lot about control lately. It seems that at the root of all problems lies the question of control. Perhaps because I am a particularly particular person, control looms large in my life. I want it, I need it, I strive to maintain it. I hate losing it.
But you see where I’m going with this: who of us can really claim to hold control over the crucial things in life? Sure, I can control the minutia of life – my lunch, the state of my closet, my hair on a good day – but not so much the big things that really matter.
I work in academia, a place rife with people striving to gain control and renown for its ability to rob you of any control whatsoever. Not only do you spend the majority of your young adult life working towards that degree that will get you in the door, but you then spend five more years (if you’re lucky) trying to remain in control of your career and your future by doing everything possible to secure that tenured job your so dearly want. Meanwhile, you feel like the control rests with the review committee, your students, your colleagues and superiors, and pretty much everyone else on campus other than you. At least that’s how I often feel.
I also have been trying (fruitlessly) to control certain aspects of my personal life that just won’t be controlled. Everyone tells me so yet I resist their advice.
All this need and want for control has me storming around the house at eight in the morning when I should be out the door and on my way to campus, storming around in a huff, trying to locate my little hand-held mirror that allows me to see the back of my head and inspect my hairdo. Yes, that is what I’m almost in tears about at 8 am when I cannot accept that my hair – most likely a big mess – isn’t going to get the inspection it needs.
Like that really matters.
After scaring my dog, my husband, and our poor roommate (all going about their morning business in the kitchen), I get on my bike and ride to work. I teach, I lesson plan, and I sit down and write this (because writing is cathartic) and I realize that I made it this far into the day without knowing what the back of my head looks like and nothing catastrophic has happened yet.
I need to work on my need for control. It’s hard for me to accept that I cannot control the big things and that obsessing over the little things won’t do the least it to change that. I cannot control so many things, but I need to rejoice in the things that I can affect and shape through my willful implementation of certain actions.
Things I can control (somewhat):
– my relationship with others (read: don’t throw a tantrum during breakfast over a mirror)
– my commute to work (this is where I wax poetic about my bike)
– my role as a teacher (I love teaching and my students and that is not often the focus academic job searches but is a focus for me nonetheless)
– my attitude in life (cliché, I know, but still…this brings me back to point number one about mirrors and tantrums and such).
I bet you didn’t come here and expect a five-step program on accepting/relinquishing control, right? Oh well, I also have to admit that I can’t fully control what comes out of my mind when I sit down to write about my day. Sometimes it might be only tangentially related to cycling and bike culture and I hope that’s ok with you.