Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
– Albert Einstien
Just short of two months ago, I was having breakfast with a good friend. At one point in the conversation, we began talking about control — feeling out of control, trying to maintain control, wanting to control our own behavior in various and sundry ways, and of course wanting to control others …
I recall sharing my emerging perspective with my friend; in particular sharing the notion that control is a myth. We, in reality, control far, far less than we think we do. And, furthermore, our attempts to gain a measure of control over our lives — to be in control — are largely folly.
That’s what I was telling my friend on that Sunday morning over breakfast.
A couple of hours after we said goodbye I learned that sometime earlier that morning, possibly even while I was having breakfast with my friend, my mom died.
* * * * *
My friend and I had breakfast again this morning. We each have had a pretty eventful 7 weeks, and there was catching up to do …
In the midst of our catching up, I noted the significance of our last breakfast; of course he remembered; he even reminded me of something I had mentioned in an email to him soon after learning of my mom’s death.
In that email I let my good friends know of my mom’s passing, and I alluded to the possibility that I thought mom had decided that it was time to go. This notion came to me as I was taking in the scene: she was lying on her back, stretched out on the bathroom floor, inert; lifeless, yet peaceful; no signs of a fall; she even appeared to have maneuvered a small plastic garbage bin under her head, a pillow of sorts …
My theory is that her blood pressure dropped; she sensed it in time to lay down right where she was (she had had blood pressure drops before, with a dizzyness that she told me she really didn’t like) and when the feeling didn’t subside, she … just… went… with… it…
Now there’s really of course no way of knowing if this scenario is in any way the reality of her death. It very well could simply be me conjuring up a scenario to comfort me in my grief.
But, surely, it’s plausible; no?
Is it possible to take control of the one thing we just have no control over? Is it possible to decide to die?
When the topic of control again came up this morning (it is a running theme for us!) my friend posed a great question: How do I square my thinking about my mom deciding to die with my “control is essentially a myth” theory? Isn’t that inconsistent? Doesn’t it seem that in the very last act of her life, my mom exercised a measure of control over her dire circumstances?
I immediately began pondering; his query very definitely was worthy of some mental processing …
Not sure I’m done thinking about this, but here’s where I am now with it. I don’t think my scenario is inconsistent. I don’t think my mom was exercising a measure of control over her dying.
I think she was exercising the ultimate act of acceptance.
And it occurs to me that there is a great paradox involved here. It occurs to me that maybe acceptance is the only way we can really maneuver ourselves into a position of being in control.
Paradoxically, we are in control only when we understand that we, really, are not in control …
Which would mean that acceptance is the ultimate answer to being out of control.
It’s the ticket to beyond.