Emotion & Control. Because, dude.

I find myself in an unusual position tonight. I’m ill-prepared for my trip in a way that I’m usually quite over-prepared for, to the point of anal-retentiveness. It’s odd, for me. But oddly familiar too. I’ve found myself in this unprepared position more often than I would care to think about these days. It’s emotion, man. Nobody can prepare for it.

I’m on a plane. Flying to the East for a few business days and then flying home. Normally I bring at least one charger for my iPhone, but more often I bring two. Just in case. In case I lose one. In case one stops working. I depend heavily on my phone when I travel. I’m also usually very, very careful about making sure the phone is fully charged before a flight. And here, my dear, is where I find myself utterly unprepared.

You see, I had phone calls this morning. Errands to run. Texting to do. Then I raced home and finished packing with NO time to spare. I grabbed the iPhone lightening plug adapter off the docking station, (and then promptly put it down again . . . somewhere), I grabbed the old charger (that must be used with the adapter) and when I got in the car my stepdad grabbed the black, newer, charger and I handed it to my mom in the backseat to put in my purse. But on the way to the airport someone stopped short and I had to slam on my brakes and things flew forward. I’m willing to lay money on the fact that my black, newer charger is currently laying on the floorboard of my car. Grr. Gnash.

So, here I am, on a plane. 30% power on my phone.

I need good power to my phone. It is a need.  I need to text a few people to confirm my safe arrival. I need to use the GPS on my phone to take me the 45 minute drive from the airport to the hotel. I need my phone for my alarm in the morning. I need my phone, in short, to be connected with my life. Because, I need my people right now. I need to know that I HAVE people. At this time, especially.

I can’t help thinking that this is a metaphor for my life right now. The “plan as much as you want but I’m going to throw you a curveball you never expected” part of my life. Which is nearly all of it, to be honest.

When I sat down with my husband in the Spring and said, look, I think we need to separate and this is why, and this is what I think should happen next, a funny thing happened. Nothing went according to my plan. All my little miniatures in my Lego board of life did not move where I wanted them to move or do what I wanted them to do. I need to learn that I can’t plan someone else’s emotional response. DUH. That seems basic.

I recognize I have a need to control things.  It’s why I don’t do drugs, and never have. It’s why I drink very little. I can’t stand feeling out of control. I also realize I have a need to plan extensively for ALL OF THE THINGS. This ties nicely with the control issue; the more I plan the more I can control the outcome.

Someone recently said to me, “You have to know everything.” Meaning, I have to always be in the know. I wrote that down and I carry that note with me. I’ve been contemplating it. Yes, I know that I always want to know about the things I want to know about. (Follow that?) If it’s something or someone I care deeply about then, yes, I need and want to know. But there are many, many things I could give a rat’s ass about and absolutely do not need the details.

So how do I find a happy medium? How do I let go enough to accept not knowing what I absolutely don’t need to know?

Need to know, need to know. I want to know. It’s like the Cate Blanchett role from Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. At the end she’s saying “I vant to know! I vant to know!” and she taps into the aliens brains and she just completely disintegrates.  Isn’t that always the way? (I sure hope that last part doesn’t end up being a metaphor for my life as well).

My life is in such a state that I’m paralyzed by my inability to plan. My actions are dictated by others right now. Dictated by one driving force: emotion. I’m playing defense and I surely wish I was playing offense. Though I’m using a sports analogy, it’s not a competition. Not by a longshot. I’m trying to relieve the pressure, the pain, the angst by not being on the offensive. I’m consciously letting things unfold and only playing defense when absolutely required. But I have a feeling that this isn’t working to my benefit. Not even remotely.

If only all those little Lego miniatures would have done what I asked. If only they had gone the way I needed them to go. But it’s not a game, or toy. It’s life. Life is messy. It’s real. It’s unpredictable. I can plan all I want but there’s this little thing called emotion that, I think, can both flatten cities and cause widespread devastation. At the same time, it can build gorgeous bridges, transport people to a higher plane of being, and it’s our DAMN REASON FOR LIVING.

Emotion. It’s no joke. People need people. They just do.

In contemplation,

Stef

P.S. Be kind to each other.

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Influence & Persuasion

As do all things in life, the subject I’m about to discuss traces right back to Jane Austen. Jane was the master of the slight nuances and the big, painful realities. She knew that perception was key in relationships – men, women, friends, lovers, families. How we feel with people, our histories, our feuds, our friendships. It’s all perception.

Jane Austen said: What wild imagination one forms, where dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken!

A few assumptions, partially overheard conversations and, voila, someone’s pride is hurt, their previous warm feelings are questioned and they want to know – was it all a lie? Is this relationship contrived? A fake? A phony? Have I just been given lip service all this time, or was this real?

Don’t we all want to love and be loved in return? By family, friends and lovers alike. If I was a Beatle I would say, “All We Need is Love.”  See? It’s universal. If a Beatle said it, and writers have written about it for ages, and songs are sung about it ad nauseum, then it simply must be true.

It’s amazing how much human nature just absolutely DOES NOT CHANGE. Read Jane Austen now, in the present, and you’ll see the same interpersonal interactions that still occur today in similar circumstances.

We don’t change.

We don’t evolve our emotions. Daughters feel the same about their mothers and fathers. Parents feel the same about their children. Siblings bicker and love just the same. Jealously, spite, love, passion – the consistency of interpersonal relationships are one of the few constants in our society.

That includes irrational fears and insecurities. We all want to feel superior to some people and quite often we feel inferior to others. We all want to be well thought of and deemed worthy of love and praise. Remember the Bennet girls? Their value based on how they were rated by men and women alike. We’re the same. We judge. We gossip. We struggle to survive with our fragile, delicate little egos intact EVERY SINGLE BLEEPIN’ DAY.

To that end, we allow outside influences to infiltrate our minds. It settles in – reclines the la-z-boy and cracks a beer – and says, hey, this is my home, I’ve been here all along – didn’t you notice? And I’m going to stay. Pretty soon we don’t know which idea was ours and which was born from another place, another influence.

Is this idea me? Is it mine? Does it matter? If someone thought of it, and I like it and want to emulate it, does it matter that it wasn’t MINE first? I like it. It’s a good thought. It’s a good idea. I want to share it.

But at the end of the day the most important question should be – is this the genuine me? Would I naturally do this or am I being persuaded to do so by my own need to feel loved and wanted and admired? Sometimes I think that’s the hardest question of all.

Where do I end and my influences begin? And is there such a thing as plagiarizing a thought?

I just don’t know. We are all such strangely complex creatures yet our overall needs appear to be quite simplistic.

Alas, it’s 1 am and these riddles won’t be resolved tonight. I should have gone to bed an hour ago but I felt absolutely compelled to put my fingers to the keyboard and just throw out these rambling, unanswerable questions. Chalk it up to late-night soul-searching.

Good night, dear friends. Be genuine.