Dither Me This #9: Control

Dither Me This is a weekly publication that presents current, old, spontaneous, or nonsensical musings for the reader to use as a writing prompt, discuss with a friend, lover, or to read and move on. Authors may present questions, creative processes, or thoughtful means to end the week; and while you may still be left staring at the walls, it is not without a new thought mulling the paint into iterative transformation. Thus we send waves into the electronic ether and see what is returned – extending a baton to the world, only a little afraid to let go. 

~~~

 

9 – Control

with Sara Aranda

Backstory

Last Christmas, my Uncle’s girlfriend gifted me a small book: A Year of Living Your Yoga, with Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D./P.T. Angela has been uncanny about gifting books to me during times in my life where I unknowingly need them. I do not consider myself as someone who practices yoga, despite the constant, “I should probably start doing it,” and albeit brief, the interactions I have had enlightened the many ways to approach meditation and introspection.

But this last year has been a much healthier year, mentally, and I remember browsing through the daily mantras and quips thinking how my sister would benefit more from this than I would right now. The obstacle: I also knew my sister well enough to determine handing the book over would be the worst idea ever, as it would likely get lost or shelved and never opened (and she knows it too). So I started texting her the daily messages without informing her of my intent, and thus, she read them. After the first month of doing so she commented on how she really appreciated having me do such, and truly values the insight that is offered with each mantra. I felt like I was finally being the big sis I wanted to be.

But I have yet to directly apply many of the messages to my own life. Sure, there are days where I read them and mull around with thoughts, but it’s quickly on to the next thing. And on days where Judith Lasater suggests a yoga pose or a breathing exercise, I definitely do not find myself doing them. Why? I am not above needing meditation and awareness of breath, I still deal with my own anxieties and negatives, yet here I am ignoring chances to be wholly present with myself. And honestly, I think I am subconsciously afraid of what I might find there.

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Confessions of Control

The message that influenced this post:

May 16 – Control is a dangerous illusion. I have found that my need to control things is based on fear and is a strategy for feeling safe in the world. Today examine one small aspect of your life that you feel you need to control. Consider your need and what lies beneath it. Then make a decision to let go of controlling it. Breathe as you do.

– Lasater, pg 78

I caught myself pondering what aspects of my life I controlled. Are they small things? Big things? Strange things? How do I even define control? I started jotting down a list and eventually categorized them into three groups of things I feel I control, have trouble controlling, have no control. Then I made it look pretty, because that’s how my brain works best (a fine example of control):

Control Chart
Excuse the typo *Actual passage of time – and add typos to the list of things I sometimes have trouble controlling!

My definition of control is the autonomous and active participation of power and influence on oneself or others. But reality often smudges the lines of what is actual control and what it not. So I tried to be cognizant and honest to myself about what I feel I can actually control in my life, and there are things that I recognize that fluctuate between control and having trouble controlling, like my own attitude.

It’s obvious (to me) why I feel compelled to control certain things in my life, and it definitely translates into my pursuit of the outdoors. I may joke about being a recovering perfectionist, but it’s true, and the outdoor world is very much a balance of well-cultivated finesse and surrender, I’ve come to find out. Letting go is easy when the action finally happens, yes, but discerning when it’s actually necessary, and having the will to follow through despite ego, is sometimes like searching for a place to safely ford a raging river, or better yet, deciding not to. This is why I continue to push myself there, because nature is often uneven and failure defines what is passed on into evolution; the true symmetry, the beautiful, perfect lines in a shell or unfurling flower – we cultivate and “man”-make what I have seen to actually be so incredibly rare.

The Vulnerability Chart

What surprised me the most about the chart is how I started listing things that had to do with my physicality first – body image and fitness, or how self-image and confidence were grouped together. Yes, I suffer from body dysmorphia and have since college. Yes, I suffer from guilt regarding my lighter skin color and thinner hair than my Hispanic and Native ancestors, and how my relative “whiteness” has only benefited me. Yes, I sometimes suffer from panic attacks in the middle of the night.

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But I think it’s wonderful that I can be candid to myself and others about these things now. They are matter-of-fact truths to my personality, even if they don’t play a large role all the time. What’s amazing about this is that it’s quite telling of my upbringing (as it is very clear and apparent to me), but very few people actually know my entire story. And how many people actually know yours? When I originally started writing this piece I delved into my childhood, my unapologetic mother, my patriarchal father, the eating disorder in college, and a whole mess of intricacies that shaped who I am today – but, I decided, maybe I should leave all that for a book or something…

I prompt you to consider your own control, how you face them, how you define them – or rather, how they define you, even when you venture outside. Do you try to control nature? What you think is moral? Do you try to mitigate your exposure to risk? Manipulate, unknowingly?

Create a chart, open a discussion with yourself and others. I’m certain that we’d all have an amazing spectrum of charts.

With loving control,

Sara

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Sara Aranda is the founder of BivyTales. Originally from Southern California, she currently resides in the Rocky Mountains. Read more about her here.

Inspired to respond? Leave charts/thoughts below, in an email, or via Instagram with #dithermethis and tag @bivytales. We will share our favorites!

Interested in contributing to the column? We are always accepting submissions. Guidelines can be found here.

dither me this is a collaborative effort between Sara Aranda, Birch Malotky, and Emma Murray

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