Progress note


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Veteran Monkeytraps readers may remember my co-author and inner monkey, Bert.  (Those seeking an introduction should read “Bert’s mission”  or “Bert’s addiction.”)  Bert hasn’t appeared here for a while, but today asked for some space.   He wrote this post last Monday.

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It snowed here today, unexpectedly and heavily.  On the last day of March, when all the snowplows have been put away.

So Steve drove to work on roads ankle deep in sloppy wet snow.  Wheels spinning, he barely got up one long hill.  Then fifty yards later he slid off the road into a shrub.  That’s when he decided to turn around.

On the way home he slid off again, banged up over a curb, and heard something snap beneath the nose of his Malibu.  He found his two front tires pointed in opposite directions, like the claws of a lobster.

He called his wife, his son, then his son’s girlfriend.  Nobody answered.

So he walked home.  It took an hour.

He fell once, into a slush puddle.  Fuck, he said, the only time this morning.

I’m telling you all this not to seek sympathy, but because I found my own reaction to Steve’s adventure, well, interesting.

I’m a control addict, see.  We control addicts don’t like it when shit like this happens.  It feels unfair.  Pushes our buttons.  We take it personally.

But that wasn’t happening here.  I didn’t feel angry.  Or guilty.  Or anxious.  Or discouraged.

I wasn’t taking it personally.

After the fall I actually felt cheerful.  I was off the main road now, walking down side streets.  It was quiet.  I noticed that snow, when you don’t have to drive in it, is pretty.

By the time we got home Steve’s shoes and hair were soaked and his side ached from the fall.  Me, though, I’m kicking at drifts like a schoolboy on a snow day.

All very strange.

Later, while Steve toweled his hair dry, I figured it out.  I realized that the stuff he’s been trying to teach clients and writing about here must have finally penetrated my monkeyskull:

That control’s a nice thing to have, but a bad thing to need.

That though we assume more control will make us feel better, that assumption doesn’t work out so well.

That there are better ways of handling feelings than control.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still a control junkie.  I’ll probably always want more control than is good for me.

But it feels nice to make progress.

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