The hardest lesson I have ever had to learn is one I still struggle with daily:
“I can only control my actions. I cannot control the outcome of those actions.”
Sometimes when I think about it, it doesn’t even make sense. I mean, surely I have some control over the outcome right? Isn’t that why we do what we do in the first place? But it comes down to the illusion of control. Which is another thing we can argue about. The mystics say “control is an illusion”. The skeptics say “if I put my coffee cup on the table it f*cking stays on the table”. So who’s right?
Both of them really.
How many times have you set a coffee cup on the table only to have someone else move it? How many times have you tried to set a cup on the table only to miss because you weren’t paying attention? How many times have you bumped something, or set it down too hard, or had it break and wound up with coffee everywhere even though technically the cup landed on the table?
“We can plant the seed. We cannot make it grow.”
So, to quote a friend, “What the Hell, man?”
We can act. If we act with precision and timing we can achieve what we wanted. If we are less precise or less well timed we can still try to make it by acting more, like trying to catch a ball you’re on the verge of dropping. We bobble it back and forth, but if we’re lucky we manage to grasp it at the end.
Does that count as control? I don’t know. I prefer to think of it as influence.
We definitely have an impact on the world around us with every thought, word, and deed. That has been proven time and again in all of our lives and in every other way imaginable. But only rarely is it exactly what we wanted. We can act. We can control our actions. We can time them and aim them and plan them, but we cannot control the results. We can only act in the best way we know and the rest will happen as it may.