COVID-19 Diaries: Ceding Control

photo credit Lakshmi Iyer


This word in itself sums up the entirety of my existence these days. I am waiting for many things. Sometimes, it feels like all of my life is one big wait for something to happen. Everything is scripted in my head, the joys, the grief, the anticipation, the highs, the lows. It is frozen in amber, waiting for something to come along and release those trapped things with wings so they can take flight.

I love being in control. I like to arrange my coffee cups precisely in the order in which I use them. The lovely green mug at the front for my morning coffee. The dark brown mug from Target, the sole survivor of a family of four, for my evening cup behind it. The three identical octagonal cups for my children on the mug tree. Everything in my kitchen and by extension my life has an order and a purpose. I like to know where I put things so I know where to fetch them from. I like to-do lists and the sense of satisfaction that comes from checking them off. I like to plan everything down to the last detail. It gives me a glorious sense of control over my life.

It also means I breakdown when things are skewed by forces beyond my control, like the time I absentmindedly left my earphones in my jacket pocket and circumstantially concluded Pattu was the culprit or the time when I applied for time off from work to be a mother only to have the rug pulled out from under my legs. The feeling of being airborne, rudderless, out of control does things to me.

I hate how I feel. I hate the loss of power in these situations. I hate that I am dependent on other entities to make or break my day. In my perfect world, promises mean something. Words are meant to be believed, things stay where they belong, my checklists are always marching on, in order, items ticked off just when they are meant to be.

The pandemic and the attendant disorder are wreaking havoc with my innate need for certainty. It is messing with my penchant for making plans and waiting for them to play out. This morning on my walk, everything was shrouded in fog. Even as I raced the clock and timed my exercise minutes, I stopped a couple of times, against my nature, to stop and stare.

The fog is beautiful because it shrouds the ugliness, it blurs the good and the bad. For a brief while it serves as a filter to show only things that are striking in their ability to stand out. The sun comes out and the fog dissipates, showing everything for what it is. My attitude it turns out needs a revamp. This uncertainty is putting the spotlight on my neuroses.

It is making me take several steps back and look at the long view. Ceding control is hard. It is hard to see waiting as beautiful. It is hard to stop scripting everything in my head and allow for the script to write itself.

But, today, I am going to make a start.



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