Friday, May 18, 2012

the control freak

"Control freak" is a pejorative bit of phrasing described as follows by Wikipedia:

In psychology-related slang, control freak is a derogatory term for a person who attempts to dictate how everything around them is done. The phrase was first used in the late 1960's — an era when great stress was laid on the principle of 'doing one's own thing' and letting others do the same.
The irony inherent in this definition is often lost in the deliciousness of the phrase -- "control freak." By using the phrase, anyone might gain a certain control, a distance and savvy and ordered fitness. "S/he's a control freak and I can see it."

Being a "control freak" has a negative connotation ... but I wonder:

Maybe everyone is a control freak to a greater or lesser extent. And if everyone is a control freak, then it's sort of silly, laying on negative or positive additions. There is something to be said for planning and neatness. There is something to be said for spontaneity and freedom. OK. A life out of control is dangerous. But is a life in control any less dangerous?

Little and large, I think it could be argued that, from morning to night, there is a 'control' gene that wants its say in life. From tying my shoe to reading a book to helping others to extracting from others ... to breathing and marriage and employment and driving or lounging or getting ahead or falling behind ... in one sense, there isn't a direction to travel in which control doesn't whisper or scream. Meaning and explanation and control ... ahhh, some semblance of a peaceful mind.

But nobody -- not even the control freak -- wants to be labeled a "control freak" any more than anybody wants to be labeled a "fool." So, I imagine, everyone exercises a delicate balancing act between angel and asshole.

To the extent that anyone might want to investigate the 'control' imperative in their lives -- just investigate, not hurl judgmental and controlling expletives -- I wonder ....

If control is one way of describing the name of the game in my life or yours -- if it's just ordinary stuff, as plain as the blueness of blue sky -- then what would it be like if you or I were, in fact, in control. So much time is spent trying to be in control, trying to get a handle on things, trying to herd the cats of life, that the question stands little chance of being asked, much less answered. But in a quiet moment now or then, maybe it deserves some breathing room.

If I were in control, what, precisely, would I be in control of? If all the books on the living room shelf were just so, if all the hopes and fears and longings were bedded down, if the bank account were full enough, the job fulfilling enough, the marriage stable enough ... if everything were finally, after all that trying, settled and serene and under my command ... what, precisely, would I be in control of and, moreover, would there be any need to control it?

Just asking.

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