It will come as no surprise to anybody who knows me that control is very dear to me. Control of one’s passions, control of one’s words, and actions, and really, pretty much everything else that can be controlled. As an aside, I find it beyond bewildering being upset at things not under our control. I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, take a detached view of the world, I fight and fight hard for the things I believe can be influenced, I just don’t see much point in fighting the weather, so to speak (now, influencing said weather is another matter entirely and I am not opposed to doing so).

The thing with control though is that much of it depends on time, and even more of it depends on timing, so that’s what I will focus on today. Time is necessary to learn control, to learn what can be controlled, to practice gaining and keeping and relinquishing control when one needs to. Serenity prayer, anyone? πŸ™‚

Timing is more difficult. Most of us, certain in our own mortality, still manage to plan (i.e. to assume that we will have enough time to get where we want to). And when it comes to ourselves, in most cases, in this part of the world called the first, we have that time. We buy it with medicine, and education, and relationships.

But timing does not depend only on us. It is not only ourselves that need to be taken into account, nor just our wishes, nor indeed our actions alone. Timing includes someone else’s time, and sometimes the time of the age we live in. It’s what we mean when we say β€œlife (or s**t) happens”.

A financial crisis, a war, an illness… many things can crumble plans, and the control these plans imply. We are often too isolated, we believe ourselves too small to influence these big things. But they are not the weather. We should fight, and fight hard, to influence them, human or not as they are. And we do, with medicine, and education, and relationships.

We are not all teachers. We are not all doctors or scientists or in charge of financial institutions. But we can all have relationships. And if timing can come into its own, it is on the relationships that we need to focus our individual efforts. And by timing I mean making choices. Simple ones, like not saying the bad words we want to say. More difficult ones, like standing our ground when we could just go with the flow. And difficult ones, like acting on the values we hold dear rather than the things we believe in.

I have discussed my view of control in another article on this blog. See, control is not just reining in, a force that is restrictive of freedom.Control can be passive and neutral, negative, or positive in that it allows action. Sometimes going through life (or the s**t described above) is control enough for powering a small country. Sometimes life seems out of control, depending on which tooth of the tiger sinks into which sensitive piece of our flesh. Our abused children, our bullied youth, our neglected elders, the sick and the maimed, have enough on their hands just to make it through to another sunrise.

But if we are well, and whole, and reasonably functional… what is then our excuse?




This is a new word, even though proverbs have captured the essence long before the last century. It’s the change that follows consequences. Learning, in other words.

Now of course this all depends on the perception of the consequence. Feedback is very much specific, but it cannot be objective. Take autoimmune disease (I have one so I am learning to deal with it) – the feedback is skewed so my body learns to very efficiently attack itself. Which incidentally leads me to the notion of the dependence I now have on a system that is by no means ideal even when it has the best intentions – the health system. I am no longer free to survive by my own means in an apocalyptic, dystopian future. Have you ever had that fantasy? The world has been turned upside down by a certain event (be it natural, man made or alien induced) and we ride into the sunset, free and wild in a strange machine that was made from scraps found around us in the rubble. Except if you have some disease that requires regular medication, in which case you are pretty much stuck, the freedom imagined turned inevitably into scrounging up for ever decreasing, ever worse expired medicine… until you can’t find any. It is a bitter irony that this type of fantasy leaves you grateful for that health system we love to hate. For this way you can lead a life that, if not free and wild, it is at the very least tolerable… and really, it just makes me specifically even more determined to think of ways to improve the health system, to donate more to meaningful research, to find ways to fund the research that actually counts for me. One should never underestimate the power of self-interest πŸ™‚

And that is the feedback from only one system, isn’t it? But the body is made up of many and they interact, so the feedback runs on that many loops and the learning happens in weird and occasionally unpleasant ways. Because the body itself has overlaps and multiple controls, all of which I guess serve to limit any damage, so that the body can heal pieces rather than just dropping off dead , which is not sustainable, really πŸ™‚

And limiting the damage, then healing cannot happen without feedback. Such a tiny, repetitive thing, such an important part of the whole system!

Can we override feedback? Well, yes, of course πŸ™‚ We keep digging when in the hole, we keep wishing for different results from the same actions. And it seems so quaint to resist temptation, so easy to take things for granted, to believe in our own imaginary immortality… or to go to the other extreme and get paralyzed by the uncertainty of it all. Fragile or bullet-proof? Which are we and when and how and why? I have been teaching the little one the value of proper explanations – she loves the game πŸ™‚ Don’t worry, I don’t have the answers to the questions above, but if I ever learnt something during the years is that they still need to be asked, so that we do not turn silly-smug as well as fantastically surrealistic!

Did I digress or was this all just learning about change and consequences?