Oct 11, 2015

The illusion of control

Looking at the world from my couch I am fascinated by control as a concept.

My Facebook feed is inhabited by people who are often on the move. Traveling. Going to concerts. I am thinking they are booking their tickets presupposing they will actually take that trip. See that concert. And I am sure most often they are. Nothing happens that will not make it happen. They decide, they act upon it and follow through. Looks very nice.

Grown up people are in control of their lives. They have a job, a workplace, colleagues, a salary coming in every month, sick leave benefits if they get the flu and pension kicking in when they retire (in Sweden). They can pay their rent or mortgage and maybe even have money over for those travels.

This is the every day control in general. Then we love the idea of controlling our thoughts and feelings, our bodies, our minds. I am just today reading about the app Muse keeping my thoughts in order. Dual N-back works my RAM. Lumosity challenges my mental processing speed. There is no end to what we can come up with to be in control. Be more in control.

But. We never are. Tomorrow you can be out of job and everything falls apart. Someone close can die and you loose your ground. A divorce splits your life like a gorge. You wake up one morning with a tumor in your breast and death breaths your neck.

Am I sounding morose? Well listen to this.

The Cold War is forever over and someone starts the agenda to recreate the glory of Russia. We would never forget Treblinka and Auschwitz, and neo-Nazis are marching all over Europe. A couple of years ago people in Syria were living regular lives going to jobs and school, today 4 million people have fled the country. And then, of course, there is the natural disasters.

Where am I going with this? I am not sure. But I think my life ruled by my body and the circumstances around leaving me exposed to fortuity, risk, hazard and the random has made me very aware of the concept of control.

I am not in control of anything. What I can do NOW and NOW can be changed during the AND. Can I take a walk when Josephine comes here for dinner? I don’t know. Can I water that plant that would need it? I don’t know. If I move just a little bit here on my couch, what happens then, does The Knife stab right in my sacrum? I don’t know. If I walk down the stairs, can I get up ugain? I don’t know. My choir is about to have these concerts next week, will I be able to attend? I don’t know, probably not. If I do attend, will I be able to make it through the concert? I don’t know. 

It’s the City who decides how much help I am allowed. Right now I’m good, but my experiences tells me to not trust it, changes for the worst is just a phone call away. Working in home care is often a transition job. I get to know the ones coming here to help me out, I build a relationship, start feeling safe, get attached, just in time to let go, and then start over again. That’s the nature of it. Although I’ve been extremely lucky with personnel over the years. 

I have a beautiful house so I’m safe and warm in that sense. I own it, but due to conditions out of my control it won’t be for as long as I would want or need. I have a home but I am sort of here on borrowed time, and I don’t know how much time I have. I have a home for now, but am feeling homeless.

So, my life is a 24/7 blue light flashing. And therefore I am very sensitive to situations where people are exposed and vulnerable. Without control. I remember very clearly first time in Seattle when I was facing a homeless man. The sign: no job, no food, no cash. He looked just like anyone. Like you and me. Like it was his first day on the street. I was struck by the thin line. Between being in control and not. And I see a lot of that in the world, here from my coach.

In December 2014, due to a weak minority government, the parties in the Swedish parliament made an agreement for stability and for damage control of the social conservative party. The agreement would last for the next eight years. Friday the Christian Democrats broke the agreement and Sweden is facing a totally unexpected government crisis. What seemed to be under control isn’t.

So what’s the point here? It’s a good thing most people don’t have my experiences. Or the Syrian refugees. Or the begging Romanies on their knees outside every grocery store in Sweden. It’s a good thing most (Western) people feel safe and in control. It’s a good thing they can book a trip and take it. But anything can happen to anyone. Control is only an illusion.

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