Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Need to Control

The past few years of my life can be summed up with an old Yiddish expression: “Man plans. God laughs.” For the past thirty-five years, I think God has been guffawing at my detailed plans for writing and getting published.

I’d like to explore that with you in this post and several that will follow. This is a big issue in my life—one that I’m grappling with since I had serious major back surgery in March. Health issues have accompanied me for many years, and I’m wondering if they are an indicator of what’s amiss with my life.

Let’s begin with a confession: I’ve always been a planner. That is to say, I’ve always tried to control the events of my life. I make schedules, routines, regimes—all those things that indicate doing this before that and getting this done today and that tomorrow.

All my long life, I have been a person who gave herself deadlines. By such and such a time, a day, a month, a year I will have accomplished this or that—mostly with regard to writing. That was necessary when I worked as an editor and had projects with deadlines that had to be met for publication purposes. But those deadlines are no more.

Now there are self-imposed deadlines that encompass my whole day: Walking. (How far? How often? Which route?) Doing core exercises. (Three or five times a week? All or just a few of the twelve the doctor gave me? Morning or afternoon?) Polishing a convent memoir I want to self-publish. (A chapter a day? Add more incidents? Explain more? Learn to use social media? Read books about marketing? And by when do I need to know everything? What kind of research regime do I need to establish?)

When I took the Myers-Briggs Inventory way back in the 1980s, my chart showed I was strongly intuitive, that details flummoxed me. But as the years have passed, I seem to rely much more on details. Details piled on details. I’ve lost—or misplaced—my trusty intuition.

No one, except myself, is standing over me wearing a hardhat, wielding a clipboard, and checking off the detailed items I accomplish each day. I have become my own taskmaster. And my thoughts don’t leap—intuitive-wise—to the next step: I need to have it writing done, planned.

With regard to writing I am struggling with throwing in the proverbial towel. I’ve been boxing my own shadows for the last thirty-five years.

I have planned and planned for how to get published and yet little has happened. My trying to control the outcome of my writing—and there has been only one acceptable outcome—being published—has resulted only in frustration.

Something is amiss. If I am meant to be published, then why—if I do the work—doesn’t that happen?

All my plans have led to disappointment. And it’s really sad that I’m unable to appreciate just being able to write.

So what is the answer?

I think it’s letting go. Going with the flow. Surrendering.

Next week I’ll share with you where I am with that.

Note that I’m “planning” to post again next Sunday. You see, I just can’t stop planning and scheduling. I’m steeped in a lifetime of control.

I wish you peace, pressed down and overflowing. I wish the same for myself.