Control vs Influence

Fantasy vs reality.

One of the reasons I write is to gain some influence. I have some ideas that I think are worth sharing, ideas that could help to bring about a greater peace. I have ideas that could help people to apprehend some happiness in their lives. I like to share what has worked for me because information wants to be free. I believe that if I can bring peace and happiness a little closer to others, then I can bring the same to myself.

I have no illusions about control. I don’t want control over anyone else or anything. I don't write to control others, I only seek a little bit of influence.

In my life, I care more about influence than control. I have pursued a hobby with home automation, but I have no illusions of control with it. I am fascinated that it works at all. With a few words, I can turn lights on and off. I can use my phone, my laptop, or my tablet to control some devices in my house. I can set my thermostat using my voice if I want to. I can even set devices under my control to a schedule. But I don’t think of home automation as control. I engage in home automation to see if it works, not to make it work.

I know that I’m prone to making mistakes for I am only human. I know that I might have control over maybe 1% of my body. I have a certain amount of conscious control over my body. I am almost certain that if I had more control than that over my body, I’d screw things up pretty good. Since I’m prone to making mistakes, more control over my body means an increase in the chance for me to make a fatal mistake. We have evolved to have just enough control to survive.

I don’t want control over people. I really don’t want that much responsibility. If I have control over someone else, then I must assume responsibility for that person. This is why I never really understood slavery. Owning a slave is an enormous responsibility. I read somewhere long ago that the slaveholders learned that the slaves owned them as much as the slaveowners owned the slaves. Possession was mutual.

In my daily interactions with other people, I don’t seek control over others. I only seek a little bit of influence. I have certain values that I want to share with the people in my life. I value things like respect, boundaries, humor, and philosophy. I value companionship, trust, and cooperation. I value intimacy over control.

In a past life, I used to play pool. I used to go out with my friend several nights a week to play straight pool and 9-ball. I enjoyed shooting pool for the illusion of control. I enjoyed applying spin to the cue ball to impart spin to the object ball. I used spin to make the cue ball stop or roll backward or forwards, after striking the object ball. I used spin to change the angle of a bank shot. I used the pool table as a personal laboratory in physics. Over the years, I let go of the illusion of control and turned every shot into an experiment.

When I watch movies and TV, I see a lot of the illusion of control. Good vs. Evil. Order vs. Chaos. Intimacy vs. control. Control is a fantasy that we see on TV. The lighting, the costumes, the camera angles, the dialogue. It’s all about control. What passes for entertainment is all about the fantasy of control. The characters we see on the screen are always seeking control. All commercials are about control. Just think hair spray.

Control and intimacy cannot exist together. I cannot simultaneously assert control over another person and expect to have intimacy with that person. Control assumes power, and power assumes the right to determine the fate of another with impunity. Intimacy cannot exist when one person seeks to control another. So I don't seek control. I only seek influence.

In this world, I do things not to make things happen. I do what I do to see what happens next. Whatever I do, I do it to measure response. A toddler understands this. A toddler knows that they must let go of the ball in order to roll it across the floor. A toddler knows that once the ball starts rolling, the only thing left to do is to watch it roll and see where it goes. I’m like that with everything. I set things in motion to see what happens next.

In a sense, I am seeking intimacy with the world around me. I let go of any illusion of control so that I can better assess my world so that I can better assess the results of my actions. If it works, I note it for future reference. If it doesn’t work for me, I chuck it. I say things that I think are funny not to make people laugh, I hazard some humor to see if people laugh. If I had control or authority over others, I would never really know if I was funny. I would never really know for sure if love was real.

Love. This is why I don’t want control over others. If I believe that I have control over another person, then I have expectations. Love is easily missed with expectations. Where there are expectations, disappointment is sure to follow. So I keep my expectations low. I avoid asserting control. I limit my desire to seeking influence, and not very much influence at that. I want just enough influence to get a response. I prefer to use a light touch with everyone in my life.

I have found that many small influences over a long period of time can lead to measurable, often positive results. This is why I try to be gentle with everything. In the car, I feather the pedal. In the home, I close the door quietly. At work, I am gentle with the hardware. With people in my life, I say, “please”. I may no demands, only requests. I seek a completely voluntary existence, for control is an illusion of will.

Write on.

Written by

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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