The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, May 09, 2005

Control and Responsibity

I spent some time recently with a friend who is in a bad marriage, and who struggles with health issues: weight, energy, etc. It was interesting to note that, pressed for explanations, every bad circumstance in her life was the responsibility of someone else. The bad marriage? Her husband talked her into marrying him. He wasn't really her type, but there was no one else around. Her chances of re-marriage are nill: look at the statistics, and you'll see it's easier for men than women. Her weight? Genetics. Alienation of friends? She didn't want to invite them to her home, because then her husband would invite HIS friends, and she didn't want them around. She had no choice...
Yada, yada, yada. When she looks into the future, she is worried because she sees no way to have control or serious influence on what happens. When she looks back, she has no responsibility for the way her life has turned out. And there, of course, is the problem.
She can't see that if she divorces her husband, she will simply go out and find another version of him: old wine in new skins. And of course, she won't recognize the similarities until it is too late, because she'll be focussed on the external aspects. And because she doesn't see how she and her husband are mirror-images. He just "happened" to her. Her lack of self-confidence, personal responsibility, and clarity are precisely matched by elements in his own personality I won't go into: I have no right to identify them in any way. But trust me, it's there. And until she takes control of herself, and takes responsibility for the decisions she's made, the same patterns will repeat.
Why does this happen? Because we're afraid to really see ourselves, really look within. This is a person I've told for over a decade to meditate, and she simply won't do it. She is afraid of what she might find inside. My interpretation? On a deep, deep level, she does not love herself, treasure herself, value herself as a precious daughter of God. This is borne out in some other attitudes she has, which, once again, I won't go into here.
But this self-love is so incredibly vital. It gives us the strength to begin that inner journey, knowing that all we will find within in the divine. As we run into layers of ca-ca, (which is inevitable), no matter how painful it may be, be can have faith that, deeper down, we will reach spirit once again. Without this faith, we wait for someone to rescue us, or sell ourselves short, or believe we have no power to affect our lives. We have some vague, fragile sense of our own worth, one easily shattered, and throw ourselves into the arms of any doctor, therapist, pundit, politician, or lover who says that they have answers. The answers we are looking for are within. The world outside is, inevitably, impossibly complex for our conscious minds to control or ultimately understand. But within, there is peace, as there is in the eye of the hurricane.
Within, there is the assurance we need to let our egos die. And the motion from any one phase or level of our lives to another involves the fear of ego death. We can either take these steps deliberately, or wait for life to force our hand. There is no avoiding the death...but we can take it small doses at a time, more on our schedual than according to the vagaries of fate.
The path to "control" of your future is "responsibility" for your past. Your body, your relationships, your career. The less control you feel you have in life, the more stress rips you apart. Go within, and you gain responsibility and control. Go deeper, and you will find that "you" have no control at all, but that something deeper and wiser and more powerful within "you" does. The ego must surrender to discover this. Ultimately, your ego always surrenders. Don't wait until your dying breath to discover this. "Die before you die."


christine said...

Just wanted to express my gratitude- message I needed to hear today!

Dianne Pope said...

This is awesome; think you for sharing. It is so very true and just what i needed to hear today.