The issue of control came up twice as I went about my day yesterday. Today, it has been a topic of much contemplation for me. Simply put, I think there is a lesson here.
If you read my ramblings on a regular basis, you already know where the first mention of control came from. Yep, that’s right. I was told I have control issues because of my discomfort with having someone with past “kiddie issues” around my children without my knowledge or consent.
As I said yesterday, while I do not agree to the accusation in this instance, I do not deny the fact that I do have control issues. Heck, I admit to them openly. As they say, “knowing is half the battle.” Of course, in my case, I also have a pretty good idea as to why I have control issues. And, as I get further away from some of the events of my life, I feel my grip ever-so-slightly slackening. Sometimes. But I do not deny that significant parts of my personality can be driven by a need to feel in control.
Then yesterday, during my voice lesson (no, I haven’t mentioned the voice lessons yet, but they started a few weeks ago), my teacher (and friend) made a comment that, over twelve hours later, hit me like a ton of bricks. As I struggled through a tight voice to make a high note sound like it should, she said something to the effect of, “Most people think that, to sing well, they have to control their voices. But to reach the full potential, you have to give up the control and guide the results.” (OK, paraphrasing, but it covers the concept pretty well.)
I have always loved to sing. There have been times in my life where singing has transcended to a metaphor for my life (part of why, at a time during my teen years when my mother and I were not getting along, I became very attached to two specific lines in the Pink Floyd song, Mother.) As I contemplated this advice this morning, I felt singing once again become representative of my life.
To make it beautiful, you have to let go. Lose the control, and harness the results.
A couple of weeks ago, we were playing a game with the Young Women at church that involved answering random questions. One of mine was, “What have you tried to do, but just weren’t any good at?” I couldn’t really think of an answer, so I said something so heartfelt and sincere that I now can’t even remember what it was. The truth is, the answer is “nothing.” If I really try to do something, I can do it.
And if I really think that I won’t be any good, I generally don’t try.
Paralysis by perfectionism.
Don’t misunderstand. This doesn’t make me some Desperate Housewives caricature. Anyone who has been to my house knows that (it’s not a health hazard, but it certainly wouldn’t be featured in Good Housekeeping, either). It’s more of a lazy perfectionism.
If you can’t do it right, don’t bother.
No, that’s too harsh. Not quite in the right vein.
If you can’t do it “right,” don’t let others see you fail trying.
Control the outcome.
It really is like singing a high note. You focus so hard on the pitch that you tighten and strain to get it out correctly. By releasing that stranglehold, you risk the possibility of having your audience hear you fall flat.
So what is the answer? (Or was there even a question?) Maybe there are only more questions. What would happen if I relaxed that grip (aside from, in some cases, really freaking me out)? Would life fall apart?
Or could I harness the “what may come” into some beautiful melody that could echo on for generations?