Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Taking Control/Command/Charge?

I have not been able to shake off this bad feeling all day. I spent some time writing, identifying the possible causes of the cloud hanging over me. Naming the problems often dispels the sense of doom - gee, not as horrible as I thought - but not this time. Perhaps it was just the foot dragging I've been doing over the current project to be quilted. Take that first step and the feeling of doom will magically dissipate. Not so. In fact, my session in the studio may have intensified the feeling. For some unaccountable reason, the thread kept breaking. After several needle changes and rethreadings, the machine behaved itself and the first bit of quilting went to plan. Moved to another section and suddenly the chosen thread color was not right at all. This happened several times, with thread removal in between. I soldiered on but I am less than happy with the results - it simply does not look as I expected it would and feels a step back in my creative journey, not a step forward. Sigh...

I owned up to my "control issues" around 2000, but still do not agree with those who insist that the need for control is a negative thing. Control, I have come to understand, is what helps keep my anxiety in check, allows me to function in a world of unknowns without totally losing it. I do not always feel in control when I machine quilt, and today was one of those days. I was lacking vision, floundering, and reverting back to a style of quilting I've never been very comfortable with. Defaulting. Losing control.

My morning pages from early December of last year were full of panic and frustrations. In the margin of one particularly unhappy recitation of woes, I wrote, "Take Control......Take Command.....Take Charge." This insight surprised me. Control has always been my touchstone, so where did the idea of taking command and taking charge come from? Were these substantially different from taking control or just another way to express the same thing? The dictionary wasn't much help - definitions for control and command were nearly identical. I've been thinking about this ever since.

Only recently have I sorted this out, realizing that there is indeed a difference. In my mind, taking command , and especially taking charge, has a much broader connotation than taking control. It implies control not just over one's self, but over others as well. I have no desire to be in command of anything, to be in charge of others or a project involving others. I determined that I could be under someone else's command, yet still be in control of my immediate duties and even how I use my time. I have found it intolerable to work with others who, in thinking they are leading are simply micro-managing and not leaving me any control at all. Sometimes in their taking of command they lose all control.

So I'm still not sure why on that day back in December, I wrote so decisively to Take Command of my situation. Perhaps it was because so many things felt out of my control, so many external factors weighing down on me, that an official militaristic taking of command or charge popped out as the quickest way to rectify things. Perhaps that's what I needed to do today - take command of all the little things grumbling away in my head and pressuring me, tell them to get back in line or perhaps leave altogether!

The picture above is "Choosing the Colors" circa 1923 by Charles Courtney Curran.


Felicity said...

Reading it, it does seems odd that 'taking control' should be a negative thing, I agree. I think it's good, actually important, to keep questioning certain assumptions and why they should apply to us. I'd write more but I'm up too late and the brain is gone so I'll muse on it instead! ;)

The Idaho Beauty said...

People who accused me of having control issues generally were thinking I was worrying about a lot of details that would never come to pass but none the less, I was trying to control them, needlessly worrying about them. They seemed to think it a waste of time to prepare for many contingencies. But as I said, it's been my way of keeping anxiety brought on by the unknown in check and I see nothing wrong with that..