Control Freak

Control? Yes…. Freak? Probably not. Most of us have some form of dependency on control. Control over our schedules, our bodies, our family, our pets, our work, our food, our careers, the traffic, our voices, audition outcomes, our houseplants, the weather, the emotional responses of others….. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

A compulsive planner, I am happiest when my days are full. Plotted out to the minute…
7:30 wake up
8:15 meditate
8:30 leave for work
8:45 arrive at work
9:00 teach yoga
10:15 bathroom break
10:30 teach voice lesson
12:00 lunch
12:20 leave for next yoga class
Etc

While this makes me very productive and on task, it leaves little room for flexibility and little tolerance when the world around me doesn’t adhere to my schedule. I tend to panic when I am only a few minutes behind schedule, fearing that my entire day will come crashing down. Things are even worse when summer arrives and there is a complete upheaval of my schedule….. as people head off on their adventures, I have less students to teach, less events to plan and attend, less voice lessons to take or concerts to prepare for, and, frankly, less to do.
That is the moment I usually fall apart. That is the moment you are witnessing right now. When I can no longer control my schedule, when I can no longer plan my neat little hourly list of daily events, I find myself fearing the similar loss of control in other areas of my life. Then come our foul-weather friends: the “what-ifs.”

If I’ve lost some of my students over the Summer, what if none of them come back? If none of them come back, what if I can’t pay for my own voice lessons? If I can’t pay for my own voice lessons, what if I can’t audition? If I can’t audition, what if I never become an opera singer? If I never become an opera singer, will I spend my entire life wondering what might have occurred if things had worked out differently?

And this is just one strand of what-ifs….. I can tally about 10 strands going on in my mind right now, probably more. It’s quite exhausting.

While I tell myself over and over that this is temporary and that I should enjoy the well-deserved break and relax for goodness sake, I still feel this panic in my chest when I look at big blank spaces in my schedule. How often do we get caught into this web of control–wrapping ourselves more and more in our wants, what-ifs, and requirements until we’re in a devastating panic spiral? Like quicksand, the more we struggle to maintain control, the faster we become smothered and overwhelmed. So, let’s make a pact. Let’s let go of our need for control: whatever it is that you cling to. Let’s let go of our need to know the outcome of every single thing in our lives. How boring would life be if everything always worked out the way we wanted it to? Let’s find freedom and fascination in the unknown.

Rather than panicking when seeing blank hours in my day, I’ll rejoice at the myriad of possibilities with which I can fill those hours. Rather than worrying about tomorrow or next week or next month or next year, I’ll focus on this day, this moment, this hour. For this second is really the only thing we can truly rely on… and even that is not wholly within our control. Let’s take the back seat for awhile, look around and enjoy the ride.
In the words of Ferris: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it.”
And with that, I relinquish my control. Well, most of it anyways.

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