Control Freaks Anonymous

<June 2008>

Are you – or should you be – a member of Control Freaks Anonymous? I think the membership would be rather large, if such a group existed (as far as I know, it doesn’t as yet…).

I’m hoping more & more of us are heading into recovery from being control freaks, since I think the all-too-prevalent human impulse to try & control things/people/circumstances/the weather/everyone around us/everything around us is at the very centre of human destructiveness.

I’ve long been convinced the genesis of our control freak-ism goes back about 10,000 years. I’ve written about this elsewhere & I’ve also done some fantastic reading that helped me grasp it in the first place. (1)

But what I want to talk about right now isn’t the 10,000-year deal.

All I really want to say about control, here, now is this:

There is really very little we as individuals can “control.” Well, except for our own happiness – which is a pretty darn big enchilada, wouldn’t you say?

Heck, I can’t control what’s going to happen to me 3 minutes from now – let alone the rest of the day, the week or my life.

This is a terrifying idea, I suppose, to a major control freak, but I put it to you that the option is wide, wide open to be liberated by it – broken open by it, even.

We can each only do what we are doing – one action, one step at a time – & then figure out, as we roll along, where to put our feet down next.

As Spanish poet Antonio Machado said

“Wanderer, your footsteps are

the road, and nothing more;

wanderer, there is no road,

the road is made by walking.

By walking one makes the road,

and upon glancing behind

one sees the path

that never will be trod again.

Wanderer, there is no road--

Only wakes upon the sea.” (2)

This world – this crazy, mixed-up, messed-up world we human beings have been carelessly tinkering with for at least the past 10,000 years (i.e., the era of our control freak-ism) is reeling from our various & multitudinous assorted assaults. The messes we’ve created are now so numerous, so complex, so extreme & so bewildering, it can be pretty goshdarn overwhelming even to contemplate; is it not so??

Well. Let’s simplify our lives, then. Let’s begin creating a path out of the morass, one step at a time. If we do our best to do this with care, sincerity, humility, courage, generosity, openness, selflessness, compassion, love & consideration for all our fellow creatures (including ourselves), Hey! somehow, it will all work out – one way or another…


p.s. Hot tip: “Your wealth is where your friends are.” So said Plato a very, very long time ago, & it is still and always true. This does not mean, as a young person I met recently mistakenly interpreted me to mean, that I lean on my friends for loans & money & stuff like that. It means that it is the people in our lives who give it (& us) meaning, & who help us get through. We need community…not more money, material possessions, expensive gadgets & exotic vacations.

p.p.s. Some dude named Matthew Arnold said “If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of [hu]mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never seen.” I’d say, any women who haven’t yet become heavily involved in world-changing are needed – giddy up, girls!!

p.p.p.s. Later blog posting of relevance: 'Why we are control freaks....I think.'

p.s. # 4 - in late Nov. 2011 - about 4 1/2 years after I wrote this. You know what I failed to mention?? Control freaks are not very much fun! (I'm betting it's not very much fun in-side them, when they're doing their control freak thing... Just a guess!)

(1) In the Absence of the Sacred – The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations, Jerry Mander, Sierra Club Books, 1992; Ishmael – An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, Daniel Quinn, Bantam/Turner, 1992; My Name is Chellis & I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization, Chellis Glendinning, Shambhala, 1994; all 3 are highly recommended.

(2) I first encountered mention of Machado in Paul Hawken’s wonderful book Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming. I Googled ‘Antonio Machado’ to find out more, & this poem came up.