Today I had to take my daughter to the dentist before dropping her off at school. A simple teeth cleaning and an exam for future tooth work they are recommending resulted in a fifty dollar charge. I could pay for it, but it comes out of the monthly food budget. And I have no idea where the three times that amount that the future tooth work will cost is going to come from. Let alone the property tax due at the end of the year which is now three times what it was in 2006. I have lost control over my life because of increasing expenses and decreasing income. And it makes me lament, “Why can’t I control ANYTHING?”
You would think that having been a teacher for so many years I would know how to control practically everything, right? I mean, if a teacher can control the ultimate chaos engines of the average junior high school classroom, he ought to be able control anything… while doing nuclear physics on the side.
But that, of course, is not how it works in real life… even without the nuclear physics which was an exaggeration for humorous effect.
The secret is, a good teacher doesn’t control the behavior of students. The teacher manages behavior by adjusting what he is in control of, his own reactions and behavior.
To make a metaphor, it is like juggling handfuls of sand. They will slip between your fingers, bounce, and fly apart completely before the first revolution is complete. But if you are smart, and have a small ceramic bowl in each hand, and a convenient big bowl of sand to dip into for new handfuls, you can throw and catch and guide the handfuls of sand through their amazing performance, at least three handfuls. Maybe as many as seven, though that would take some really fast hands and years of practice.
The point is, I think in my stupid little head, that I should not be trying to control the chaos my life has become. The art is to manage the opposing forces, guide them back into the over-all flow of it, and prevent any single thing from overwhelming me, interrupting or wrecking the music of existence.
So the lesson here is, even though this post started out being about dentists and cost control, that I can’t control anything in life but myself. So I might as well keep playing my figurative banjo and get into a figurative Studebaker with figurative Fozzie just to see where the road song will take me. I will play the music and try to keep it all in tune and following the beat, no matter how many wrong turns and hitchhikers happen along the way.