Mali, Uncategorized
Comment 1

on control

Mali agriculture field

Control is crazy-making. It’s impossible to live and let live when information, opinions, and judgements invade the screens we live by at a breathtaking pace; when we organize our time on calendars in clouds; when modern impulses conspire with gadgets, driving us to decide, allocate, schedule, confirm, reach out, touch base, and on, and on. I am victim to these same urges, even as I realize the mechanisms control me more than I care to admit. Control is a wicked illusion; it is a mindset of denial, of keeping fears–inadequacy, incompetence, chaos, confusion, imperfection, disturbances–at bay through sheer will. Control is a (highly soothing) barrier to reality, but it is ultimately futile, and exhausting.

So here I am, newly without a home of my own, without a car of my own, without a smarty-pants phone. I eat the food that is fed to me; I go to the places others are going and I stay there until they leave; I use electricity when it is available and I don’t when it’s not; I bathe from a shower head unless the water is cut off, in which case I use a pre-filled bucket; I trust the advice of the people around me, without Google to research and verify; I have no idea what people are saying–to me, at me, about me, near me–a good 40%-50% of the time. I’ll admit to checking the weather forecast in the morning, but I recognize this for the ritual it is; during this rainy season it is reliably hot with showers–case closed.

The fewer the options available, the fewer opportunities to contain fear through choosing and clinging to choices as buoys, the more you let your surrounding reality into your sense of what is…well, I’d say it’s like diving into the ocean and rolling with the waves, instead of teetering on a sinking raft, trying to configure your mobile to manage the water lapping at your feet.

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