A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

Calming My Control Monster and Living in the Present

Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet

Waterloo Bridge by Claude Monet

This morning I happened upon some lovely words that spoke right to my heart. Don’t you love it when that happens? As I wrote about recently (and other times too), I’ve been trying to learn to tolerate uncertainty and imperfection in my life and–rather than frantically chase a sense of control–just exist in the present moment. So this passage of dialogue from Jerry Spinelli’s young adult novel Love, Stargirl (sequel to the fabulous Stargirl) was perfect for me:

“Maybe you’re merely uncomfortable with uncertainty. Like the rest of the human race.”

“So at least I have company.”

… “Lots of it. And that means you’re sitting in a classroom of billions, trying to learn the same lesson as the rest of us.”

“Which is?”

“Which is: How to Be Comfortable with Uncertainty.”

… “Are you going to tell me how? Give me a hint?”

… “Yes. Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don’t rent them out to tomorrow. Do you know what you’re doing when you spend a moment wondering how things are going to turn out?”…

“What am I doing?”

“You’re cheating yourself out of today. Today is calling to you, trying to get your attention, but you’re stuck on tomorrow, and today trickles away like water down a drain.”

– Jerry Spinelli in Love, Stargirl

This is the lesson (well, one of many lessons) life is trying to teach me right now. It’s so easy to spend all my seconds and brain cells on planning, calculating, worrying, second-guessing, and generally living in unmitigated anxiety, especially when I’m worn out, stressed out, and/or feeling the tension of uncertainty about some circumstance or issue in my life. What helps, when I can manage to do it, is:

1) to let go of my need for control and accept my reality in all its difficult imperfection (as in, “It’s okay. [That’s my latest mantra.] My clothes are in a total mess on my bedroom floor, but I’ll get to them eventually; I just can’t do it right now. So I may as well focus on what I am doing.”), and

2) to listen to my worries and then put limits on them (as in, “Okay, self, I hear that you want to mull over _____. I will give you time to do that during ______. So right now, it’s okay to let go of those thoughts and just focus on what you’re doing at this moment”).

Spending regular time in quiet reflection/meditation helps tremendously with the ability to accomplish those feats and thus calm my inner “control monster” (which is like Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster: instead of hungrily demanding, “Cookie! cookie! cookie!” it says, “Control! control! control!”). The more I self-awarely (can I make that a word?) contain my worry-energy in a self-nurturing and reality-accepting way, the freer I am to mentally sit back and take in all the sensations and details of the present moment.

But I think Jerry Spinelli said it better. 🙂



4 comments on “Calming My Control Monster and Living in the Present

  1. Stefanie
    April 15, 2016

    It is one of those takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to master sorts of things!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. emilievardaman
    April 15, 2016

    I, too, need to work on living today. I spend too much time concerned for the future.


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