Control is a reoccurring theme in my life. Whether that’s a 6 year battle with an eating disorder, being a work-a-holic, being the one that needs to carry everything or even trying to regulate the overwhelming desire to have a panic attack if friends or roommates leave my house out of order. The need to control is an interesting compulsion; one that’s hooked me since a young age. It remains in a constant tension between my spiritual philosophy of ‘living in the let go’. I find it ironic that the ability to let go is often followed more closely by a regimented and disciplined spiritual practice than frivolous antics, both of which I’ve tried to the nth degree. I know there are gifts in my sometimes tightly-wound mindset around particular things, and often is perceived as neurosis or “dude, you just need to chill”, or “mate, you just need to take your foot off the pedal sometimes.”
In most cases, I would tend to violently oppose this thinking; yet, (pardon the pun), in the case of yesterday’s car write off – those opinions were frustratingly correct. Yesterday marked my third car write off in my young 25 years (and 9 years of driving – impressive, I know); the first being on the night of my formal – all done up, 10 minutes from the venue, at 42 kilos I was too hungry and anxious to make rational choices. T-boned a truck at an intersection, my little Rav-4 looked like a giant had come and crushed it from both ends. The end of 2016 marked my second car write off; after a debilitating heartbreak – the night after a breakup, driving to a presentation because “it was better to focus on work than the feeling of a thousand knives in my chest”. Straight into the back of a cab, going 80 kilometres, the impact was an oddly relieving feeling of “WAKE THE FUCK UP, Nicole!”
Yesterday, I was having a great day. This time it hadn’t seemed like control was eating me alive too much. But here’s the catch, mental health challenges – or my personal lens on the situation; ‘matters of the ego’, can sometimes creep in at the most unlikely times and in the most subtle of ways. My control issues aren’t always overt or obvious. But I’ll tell you what; holding up the Story Bridge after totalling a car with Police, Ambo’s, Firey’s, 3 Tow-Truck drivers, the driver of the Brisbane City Bus I smashed into; all surrounding me in the middle lane of the story bridge was probably enough of a wake up call to help me realise something needs my attention.
There were a few noticeable elements of my experience yesterday that feel a little ‘hard to shake’ – I’m not sure whether it was the Firey who came up to me with the most gentle of looks touching me on the shoulder, shaking my hand and saying to her colleagues; “you don’t know who this is, do you?’ – whilst turning back to me and saying; “I love what you do so much, thank you.” For me to have something kick me straight in the centre of my being to say; “why Nicole, is it so hard for you to realise how loved you are?” Here’s the thing though; when you’re wrapped up in trying to control every minute details – you miss out on what everything looks like when you soften your gaze. You miss out on the bigger picture. You miss out on the present moment. I’ll critic myself against selling 10 less books than I had intended this week, but dismiss the 30 messages from people adoring the impact it’s made on their lives.
Here’s the thing – we’re never actually in control. In one moment you can be thinking, “man, I’m finally getting ahead,” and the next you’ve lost 10 grand in a millisecond. And here’s the lesson; life doesn’t care about your control issues. Life followers a seamless, organic, remarkably and intelligent flow – that WE can never be separated from. Ever. Consider my car accident no different to a fire in the woods that burns the trees down – I’ve never heard a forest complain. The grace nature demonstrates during these perceived setbacks, is awe inspiring. Only to the human ego, though, to the rest of nature – this is simply as it should be. “It is what it is,” so to speak. We can learn so much from this; even Darwin discusses it (to reference both The Decent of Man and my own book, Love Out Loud, where I deconstruct his lesser-known theories), Darwin talks about evolutionary ‘set-backs’, as a crucial element of evolution. Without taking a dip backwards, nature (as well as humans), will not find the power and momentum to move even more powerfully forward. We are subject to a force much, much, MUCH larger than ourselves.
This experience has made me stop to question; “where are my priorities?” – at 18, I lived in car and volunteered my time to do what I do now. Has my ego, and need to control, gotten in the way because now there are ‘details’ to fixate on? When I had nothing, it was easy to dream – it was easy to ‘live in the let go’ – after all, what was there really to let go of? It’s a much greater lesson when you work your arse off to get ahead 2 years in a row to experience consecutive major financial setbacks.
But you know what; what a brilliant spiritual lesson. AND, reminder that; our insignificance is a constant reason to remain humble, and that no-one and nothing can ever take our mindset from us. As long as my mind remains stronger than my ‘setbacks’, I will win (and am winning). I will remain in an upward trajectory. I will be inspired to make art from my failures, my pain and my setbacks – because after all, what’s the purpose of art? I believe it’s to help other’s feel less alone. So, this is my gift to you – fellow control freaks – you’re actually never in control. That voice in your head that tirelessly ‘negotiates with you’ – “I’ll be happy when,” “I’ll feel calmer when,” “I’ll relax and have fun when,” is a mirage. It’s a bitch. It’s a lie. And the longer you chase it, the further into the desert you travel without water. Take it from me; someone who seems to attract my own karmic feedback at rates like no other – the only incentive and motivation behind your actions should be your joy. Right now. NO exceptions. Because love always wins.
Peace amigos. X