There are many things in our lives that we have little control over, I was reminded of this as a truck crossed the centre line this morning, this juggernaut, hurtled towards me and the side of the bridge was way too close for comfort. Whilst it was a close call I have had a few closer, it was not one of those seminal moments where your life flashes before you but as I am want to often I did reflect on it. I know that bridge is narrow, it is not the first time that it has been close for me on that bridge, it was a wet day, I had adjusted my speed already my lights were on and I made sure I was well within my lane. Apart from not traveling that way there is little else I could have done to avoid that situation.
I wrote in my last blog about decisions and choices, this week in an article I read about dealing with stress, one of the headlines caught my eye “don’t let others determine the outcome”. In the middle of crisis, such advice could be seen as incorrect, insensitive or even inflammatory. I have learned through experience that even in amongst situations where the outcome seems determined already there is still choice.
Outcomes are varied and are sometimes far more complex in their endpoints that what they look like initially. We live in a material world where we are used to immediacy, Look at the furor over flight MH, the demands for answers, the soul searching, calls for consequences, and here we are over a month later and the outcome is still undetermined.
Pike River Mine disaster is another classic example of this. Whilst the narrative around disaster is always a social construction, culturally driven and very different it is still affected by a need to do something, to have something to hold onto and in many ways that is an example of not letting others determine the outcome.
I want to talk about the micro view of outcomes, rather than the macro. At a Global, International or even Local level we may have little individual control over outcomes as we have little control about the circumstances we find our selves in. In fact many times we have little control over the physical outcomes. As I wrote at the start of this blog, whilst I had taken as many precautions as I could, there was little else I could do in that situation, so it is if we choose to engage in life.
If in fact that truck had been a little closer, there can be little doubt about the final outcome of that interaction, Truck one, me nil. So you may ask what control would I have had over that outcome. I am not going to talk about the meta physical right now, because if the truck had hit me prayer would be all that was left and I didn’t even have time for that!
So how could I “not let others determine the outcome” if in fact the worst had occurred and that was my last drive to Putaruru, or in fact anywhere? Well here it is, in a situation like that if I have lived my life well, prepared my children for success, told them often that they are loved, given them the knowledge that they are fantastic and can achieve then that would be enough.
On a more everyday level, I have had circumstances dictated to me for a long time, I have been slowly taking back control over the outcomes of this over the past four years, sometimes more successfully than others. I am on occasion even putting myself first and not feeling guilty about it. I am learning to be assertive but not reactionary, learning to breathe first and act later and realizing that I am good enough and that what I expect and fight for with others should be accorded to me as well.
I am learning that immediacy does not mean the best answer or outcome occurs, that silence and reflection can be very strong answers and that whilst I am a good listener to others I need to listen to myself as well.The close call with the truck reminds me that the immediacy of death helps to sort priorities in life. It helps me to live a less trivial life and to remind myself of my motto, to rather be condemned for passion than mediocrity.