On the Illusion of Control

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do children as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
– Helen Keller

Have you ever bought a new car and parked it in the furthest reaches of the parking lot at the store – to keep it from being scratched by someone slamming it with their own car door? How long did that last?

If you have children you want the best for them. Recently I heard the wonderfully descriptive term “helicopter parents.” These are people who hover over their children, always on the lookout for a potential mistake, ready to swoop in and save the day. How long does that last?

One of my fellow meditation students told me she was like that until someone reminded her that “your children create their own karma.” It’s a hard lesson. My children are grown – 34 and 32 years old – and I have to bite my tongue frequently when they tell me about something that I am CERTAIN is a mistake. I truly believe that the hardest thing about being a parent is letting go – whether your child is 6, 26 or 56 years old. If you don’t have children of your own, ask your friends or your parents if they agree with me.

Part of the problem with the idea of being in control is that we can’t always predict with accuracy what will come of any situation. Have you ever had something happen that you thought at the time was good – or bad – and as events unfolded you discovered it was the opposite of what you originally thought?

Jack Kornfield says “Instead of struggling to perfect the world, we can relax, resting in the uncertainty. Then we can act with compassion and give our best without attachment to the outcome. We can bring fearlessness and trust to any circumstances.” The key to this statement is the idea of giving up our attachment to the outcome. Do the best you can and then let go of your expectations about  the way things ought to be.