The illusion of control

How do I end up in these places?  That’s not just a whine about winter, but a bigger question, really.   It seems to me that I could not have predicted my current circumstances from my earlier life.  I think that a lot of strange, unpredictable things had to happen for me to be here, now, doing what I am doing.

I often wonder if there is any truth to my sense that I have made choices, decisions, which resulted in my arriving here in this place, in this work, in this country, within my particular family structure.

Did I actually have anything at all to do with that?

2014-01-20 15.54.07

There are times when I think that maybe choice is illusory and that we operate on another scale.  We are mere mites within a grander structure.   We run around, choosing one path or another, feeling stressed about what to choose, but we cannot see that the choices are limited by the maze into which we were born.   We think we are choosing from all the available options but maybe our very choices are constrained by our pre-existing beliefs, our social structures, or needs for acceptance within our tribes.  Those constraints are largely invisible to us as we make our day-to-day decisions.   Eggs or pancakes?   Divorced or married?  Employed or not?   House or condo?   It is not obvious that there are many other options than just the either-or within our cultural and social limits.

What are the limits?  What keeps us inside the maze rather than climbing up the walls and getting a look at what else is there?

credit Wikipedia
credit Wikipedia

I suspect that partly it is our illusion of control.  We feel a need to hold onto that, even though life has a way of reminding us regularly that we don’t actually control very much.   If we should climb up the walls of the maze just to look out and across the sweep of those tunnels of our options and maybe the related but disconnected mazes of people from other places, cultures, social settings, we would have to acknowledge that truth…control is just an illusion.   That’s a frightening idea.  We want someone to be in control.  Some of us want to be in control of ourselves.  Some of us are willing to relinquish control to a beneficent deity.  Some of us believe that we are controlled by malevolent forces, from government-corporate conspiracy to the devil.   Some people prefer to believe that we are controlled by natural forces, such as evolution, or climate change.   After all, we figure, SOMEONE must have set up those mazes.

What if none of it is true?  What if our limits are our own conceptual construction, just as our control is our own conceptual construction?  What would happen if we dropped all the stories, all the self-talk about us and others, about limits, about control, about events?   I suspect we’d be left with experience, our moment-to-moment experiencing of being a human organism living a human life.

Found APOD, credit http://www.thorri.is/ Fabulous photos at this site
Found APOD, credit http://www.thorri.is/
Fabulous photos at this site

I’m going to ponder this for awhile.  Who am I when I drop the storyline?   When I really drop it, that question also disappears.   The “I” of my story is gone and what is left is just the experiencer, experiencing.   I get there sometimes, moments during sitting and other moments too, but as soon as I notice then I am back in the story, back in my maze.  But I wonder, and this is part of the story too, if I can melt away the “me” of my story, can I melt away the limits of my maze?  What is it like to just BE, without putting that moment into the context of my day, my week, my maze?

 

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