War and Peace

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Ah, the illusion of control.

When we’re younger, we all have it. We set lofty goals and then try to shove our daily life into some semblance of order to reach those goals. We control our destiny, after all.That’s what the experts tell us. THINK yourself successful. Be positive. Life won’t know what hit it.

But then life hits back. We age. We become parents. We lose parents. We quit jobs. We lose jobs. We have to move. We discover a child has health concerns. We fail at something important for the first time.

Suddenly, destiny is not so controllable. In fact, it feels like life has just declared war!

So we seek other ways of control. Schedules. Routine. Busyness. If we control every minute, then we can control what happens to us.

It might work for awhile. We might have days, weeks, or even months of quiet. But then life decides to hit back. Again.

I am no longer in my 20’s. No longer seeking fortune and fame. I’m a suburban gal with a family, an elderly mother, a mortgage, and another marker in my 40’s looming over me (read: New Wrinkles Daily). Control is nothing but a pretty illusion.

This week alone, I’ve battled yet another unexpected cold, so there goes my work-outs….a sick 5-year-old, so there goes schooling…hitting a deer — which killed the poor deer, did in my psyche and wounded the car…and a myriad of other things that are petty and inconsequential in life’s big picture.

But troublesome, bothersome — and completely outside the scope of any illusion of control.

My life’s one goal has become pretty simple: Peace.

I just want to get up in the morning and find out what it is to enjoy the day. To linger over coffee. Have time to contact a friend. Extend a kindness to someone. Play with my children. See them learn something new. Be creative for the sake of creating. Do something meaningful. Surround myself with music. Feel cherished by those closest to me for who I am, and not what I do. Read a good book. Enjoy a good meal that feeds more than my appetite.

Sound familiar? Even if you haven’t voiced any of that outloud?

As women, our days scream by meeting everyone else’s needs. When the day ends, we’re exhausted, depleted, with nothing left to feed our own souls. And no matter what pithy motivational sayings we read, let’s face it — most of us can’t walk away from our responsibilities, or make a few simple changes and suddenly find life better (Think happy thoughts! Be positive! Just exercise for 10 minutes!).

That’s not realistic.

So we plod on. And life continues to deal out the daily barrage of unexpected. Something dumps in the fridge. The washer breaks. The basement floods. We throw our hands up in the air and ask when it ends…

….while knowing somewhere deep inside us, it doesn’t end.

Life isn’t going to stop. The kids will get older, and new problems will occur. Then the kids are off to college, and you’re an empty-nester facing new challenges. New difficulties.

And still — no real control.

My New Year’s goals weren’t nearly as lofty this year as they have been in past. I could have easily filled two pages with resolutions to lose weight, drink more water, save more money and be a better person — all illusions of control.

So instead, I’m focusing on what — today — will bring me peace.

I can’t control what goes on around me, or the people around me — but I am going to work darn hard to control my reaction to it. To take an honest look at my life — at what I need to bring into it, get out of it, surround myself with or ignore in order to achieve that which, in the long run, is most precious to me.

Now if you’ll excuse me — I have a cup of coffee to linger over.

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