Many of us are conditioned to think that being in control is a good thing. I am starting to question whether it is the case. When we look closely, we are very rarely in control, and the attempt to gain more control usually creates friction and frustration. What happens we let go of the idea of control?
We can plan, influence and manage projects and to some extent, this gives us a sense of control. But if we look more deeply we cannot really ever have control over situations, other people or even ourselves. We can easily control material things, but as soon as it involves the living, it becomes much more complicated. We may get better at predicting situations; we may learn how to manipulate others, and we may fool ourselves thinking that we are in control of our feelings, but the truth of the matter is that almost everything turns out differently from what we had imagined.
Striving for control is like chasing a butterfly. It is very hard to catch one when it is moving and as soon as it is still the slightest movement of air will make it fly again. Taking a picture of it or catching it with a net and pinning it on a cork board is an option, but we then have lost the magic. The day wrote the first draft of this post, I was trying to take a photograph of a butterfly and the more I tried the further it flew away. I put the camera down and decided to watch it instead. I got fascinated by the dance and then as if it got a gist of the change it came very close and landed on my hand.
Most of us spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to control everything, from our thoughts to our relationships. When we let go of the desire to control, and become more at peace with the complexity and impermanence of things, we create space for different human qualities to emerge. Trust that things are going to be OK, an openness to listen to our intuitions, a freshness to meet the world as it is, the freedom that comes with having no plans, the mindfulness that comes from not being preoccupied and the intelligence and flexibility of meeting change.
The need to control events and people is very ingrained in us, but control is mostly an illusion. The idea of control is constantly challenged by the ever-changing reality of the inner and outer world. When we let go of the desire to control, we become more in touch with the flow and can meet change more readily.
Let go of trying to capture and the butterfly may land in your hand.
One sentence journal – day 20: “Preparing my class instead of my morning routine, I set on a wrong foot; the afternoon was varied and exerting – putting me in a good yogic mood.”
Photo: Loic Lopez