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Monday, October 8, 2007

A brief discussion of self-control.

It's been an eventful week. I took a brief vacation to visit a dear friend who's living in Florida. The drive down was long and tiring, but beautiful. I've never driven that far south, and it's really something to see. I imagine that if I had a more intimate knowledge of the back roads, there would be an even more stunning view of the South Carolina low country and Georgia. There's something about the wetlands just off I-95, it's something you'd never see from the oval window of a plane. There are long expanses of low grasslands, punctuated by bony trees, black and reaching out of the ground like something from a graveyard horror film. It just looks quiet there.

All that quiet gives one time to think, and I did a lot of thinking in the 14 hours I was on the road. In some ways, I think it prepared me for a rather upsetting interaction with a potential new friend (there is no potential left, now). I think a lot of people would benefit from a good long stretch of highway and time to figure it all out.

I used my highway to think about the way we interact with people. There are so many things that we've convinced ourselves we can control, even with the most superstitious of methods. The one thing we can definitely control is ourselves. I think if we focused more on our own actions, and less on trying to fruitlessly control other people's, we'd find that elusive patch of sanity and zen that everyone seems to be seeking.

I won't share the details of my upsetting interaction, they've got nothing to do with chocolate. But when immediately confronted with a situation where many people would use any number of ways to attempt to exercise control over someone else, I decided to put my thoughts into action. I realized that lowering myself, even incrementally, would be a futile attempt to manipulate the situation in my favor. So I didn't. I saw the truth for what it was, and thanked the messenger.

And then I erased his phone number.

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