Losing Control

19 07 2020

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One of the things I love about the woodland where I walk most weekends, is the lack of management. When trees fall, they are allowed to regenerate and sprout new saplings as they wish. No foresters come in with trucks and ropes or chainsaws to tidy things up. There is a large tree lying across the main track, with just enough space to allow people to pass thoughtfully on their way. I’m sure it annoys many people that the track is no longer completely clear, but this compromise pleases me deeply. So much of modern life is controlled, micro-managed and ordered to the point where the natural flow of life feels tightly squeezed.

Emerging from a pandemic, inevitably there are control issues everywhere. Questions of controlling the disease dominate our headlines still. We are no closer to controlling Corona Virus, and possibly we will have to learn to live with it and cope with local outbreaks as they emerge. Some of us will adapt, and take a different path, and some of us will find it hard to live with a virus that continues to control our daily lives. Many people have already had enough of its tight grip on our social lives. All over the country, illegal music raves are flaring up in defiance of lockdown, like wild fires out of control, and instead of ordering the noise to be cooled off, police are allowing the raves to burn on through the night. This is sensible – I mean, how do you get 3,000 people out of a muddy field in complete darkness – yet utterly annoying for the people of Bath, for example, who have had to endure thumping music for the past 24 hours.

As someone who is regularly woken by a noisy neighbour, the residents of Bath have my sympathy. Despite a letter signed by 13 residents, requesting that my neighbour respect the need for peace in our close community, he still ramps up the volume. We cannot control his need to play loud music at antisocial hours. We want to do something and we often joke about all the antisocial measures we would like to take against our asbo neighbour. Nevertheless, we don’t throw bricks though his window. When we remember, we write down the times our sleep is disturbed and then we get on with our days.

I’m able to be relaxed about the noise intrusion now. In the past it has made me very uptight indeed and I reached the point where I considered moving. Working from home means there are distractions enough to tempt me away from my laptop – I mean just how many times is it really necessary to go and stand in my kitchen and stare out of the window to see if the tide is coming in or going out? – dealing with loud music while trying to have a zoom meeting with messages announcing unstable internet connection, was almost guaranteed to send me to the kitchen for another long look out of the window.

This strange new life I have been living since March with all its uncontrollable unknowns has curiously helped me to become less uptight about stuff that used to really bug me. I think it was because I thought I could properly manage the various elements of my life. I could structure my days and prune out anything that felt like an obstruction. Six months ago, I was powering through a diary that had no space in it at all, and I must admit I enjoyed it, although not being able to sleep because my mind was still working on some of the problems I hadn’t managed to solve in the day was not conducive to working creatively.

Since the pandemic, I’m less interested in control and much more interested in elegant solutions. The saplings growing from the fallen tree are such a perfect example of nature’s way of sorting out a collapse. One thing falls and dies, another thing regenerates. Many of my ideas and plans have crash landed, fallen to the forest floor. After getting over my shock, I see that there is more air and space around those toppled ideas, and they have started to make their own way into the light, seeking space of their own. I’m less in control, now, and more open to watching the new growth take on a life of its own. Nature never makes a mistake. I’m grateful to be in a place to take notice.


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One response

19 07 2020
conversationswithnell

Yes. We are having to rethink so much at the moment. It brings a certain kind of acceptance with it that we can no longer control everything in the way we did before. Sometimes we just have to let go and see where it takes us. X

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