Out of Control


Are any of us in control? Or is the concept merely one that flatters us, plays to our sense of place in the vast and chaotic events that engulf us? Are we, for example, truly in control when we get in a car and drive off? We don’t plan accidents, but they happen. We don’t plan death -by and large we try to avoid it- but no matter our strategy, it is inevitable. We paint little pictures of ourselves in control -where we work, how we play, what we eat- but is it control we paint or merely small random scenes in a movie whose plot, let alone its ending, is not yet known?

I ask these questions, because I see them surfacing daily in my work. Perhaps we all do, and so frequently we no longer notice them. But there are ramifications to their very presence that impact in ways I cannot ignore. Or rather, I try to look for other paths that mimic control -that paint the same picture.

Pregnancy, for example. If there were ever a process that defies control and yet musters ultimately vain attempts to assume command, it is pregnancy. It sounds so simple: read everything about it that supports your position, set goals and write them down for those who would usurp control, and approach each stage as a soldier would a battle with courage and resolve.

I do not argue the purpose of the exercise, merely its attainability. We need goals. We need roles to play that respect who we are and what we think, endorsements for our unique predilictions. We often find them at work or at least we befriend those who validate our choices. We partner with them, have babies with them.

But some things defy control because they themselves are dynamic, constantly changing -like a twig floating down a meandering stream. The direction is known and by and large predictable, and yet there are forces at work that are hard to anticipate in advance. Things that make it impossible to know exactly where, how, or even when the journey will end.

There are some things we can do, of course. No one would argue that lifestyle choices such as proper nutrition, exercise, and some knowledge of the changes that often occur along the way are helpful and important; recognition, too, of different routes, detours, or changed conditions that might alter the arrival; preferred options should there be a choice.

And options are a form of control -shared control, perhaps- much like a choice of detours still deflect you from your originally anticipated route. But you still arrive; the destination hasn’t changed. And in pregnancy, destination is everything.

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