by George A. Yesthal
It’s often been said, and generally agreed upon that ‘control is and illusion’. I’d like now, to abridge this philosophy with the small differentiation that it is total control that is the illusion.
Of course we all have various and personally subjective levels of control in our lives. I like my coffee black these days because at times in the past, I ran out of Half & Half and began to examine the subtle nuances of the flavor of black coffee. I decided I liked it and the fact that I could strike Half & Half from my weekly shopping list, thereby saving money, was not only a level of control, but a decidedly successful step in making myself happy. Plus, now I am more manly for drinking black coffee. Ah, but I stopped smoking cigarettes so it was kind of a trade-off.
I think that recognition and acceptance of your personal level of control is nuclear in your success both outwardly and inwardly. If I always envy and covet that which I have not, I will not have the things that I envy and covet. This is a truth it took me years to learn and not being a quantum physicist, I can only assume it has something to do with negative energies.
I am one of the laziest people I know. I am also one of the most opinionated. What does this mean? Well, on the very outer shell, it meant that, probably I was never going to be successful on a socially functional level. My youth was misspent and I didn’t knuckle down to my studies enough to become the scholar that I suspected was lurking somewhere in my psychological makeup. What I did was enroll in college and decide since, at orientation, I was unable to get every particular course that I wanted, that it would be more valuable (and fun) to go skipping off around the country having adventures. Again, control. It’s just that I had control, but I was OUT of control. My bad, and I own that.
It wasn’t until I’d held one job after another and got fired from the ones that I didn’t quit, that I realized, that the only way I was going to be satisfied working was to be self employed. You see, I didn’t like going into work and having someone I didn’t like or even respect lording over me for a paycheck that was always going to be insufficient at best.
The miracle was that all through this time I managed to raise two incredible kids with an unusually forgiving and patient woman and if those kids weren’t the extraordinary souls that they are, I may well have quit them too.
Unfortunately, I have an extremely short attention span and I get bored with things at an alarming rate. There are few areas of endeavor that I cling to for any appreciable amount of time. My loves are music, art, writing and various sciences. Since I shirked my studies and never achieved the requisite letters attached to my name, other than M.I.A., I needed to stick to the arts.
At first, I started doing ceramic tile work because I’d gotten training from a sympathetic friend, but I carelessly let him down by ruining a carpet that had recently been laid down in a new home because I was in a rush and I got fired for it. So I went out on my own and did that for a few years. I was very good at it, actually…and I hated it.
Eventually, (control again) I took the opportunity to set up shop in a local mall because, after working as the manager of a string of arcades for seven years, I had contacts that made it doable. I did that for another five or so years. I worked harder and longer at that job and was more diligent than I’d ever been thitherto. I worked all the hours myself because I’d finally started to make more money than I was inclined to spend. If I’d hired someone I would have been right back in the same earnings – expense = loss scenario, and by not doing it, that money went in the bank.
Mall hours are long, around eighty hours a week, and the contract says you must be open ALL of them. Needless to say, my family and friends never saw me. Not much of a life, especially since I have the best family and friends a man could ask for. BUT, I was putting money away for the first time in my life and I did it until the mall started losing traffic, and subsequently, business. I held on until my contract expired and closed down shop. For the first time in years I was worried about what I was going to do. I’d bought a home and was now supporting an aging mother so it wasn’t like I could just go flip burgers. Yes, at that time there were still burger-flipping jobs available.
My son came over one evening and said, “Dad, you’re a good artist and now you’ve got some money behind you. Why don’t you start doing tattoos.?” He and I had recently gone to get our first tattoos together and I ran the idea by the fellow who had done them. He was very supportive and walked me through what I would need to get started and one day, after getting all my stuff in the mail, I did my very first tattoo on my thigh. A scorpion. I found an affordable storefront in a high-traffic area and with my son’s help (him being a contractor) opened a shop and did well enough to, after three years, open another one.
Then two disasters hit. September, 11, 2001 and I made the mistake of falling in love.
As I’ve said, I’m lazy and careless and have the world’s shortest attention span so I began to get bored. Also, unfortunately, I am actually only about half as smart as I give myself credit for. When I should have stuck to the home-front and put my nose to the grindstone, I allowed myself what I considered my due and moved a hundred miles away with my lady love and tried to run the business by proxy. My loved ones tried, ever so gently, to show me the folly in this, but I was the master (control again) of my destiny, right? I rationalized that I’d put relationships to the background and after years of hard work, finally I’d found true love and now was my time. I moved in with my significant other and took a job as a counselor for troubled adolescent males (yes, I’ve had some experience in that field). Well, needless to say this was the absolute worst decision I could have made. It taught me that juggling is not my forte. Eventually my business failure bled over to my relationship and the whole house of cards came crumbling down around my ears. Disaster on a biblical scale, and I crawled into a bottle for about four years, barely functional and steeped in a well of self-pity.
The Vacation: I checked into a rehab in San Diego.
Back to the control part. I have since cleaned up my act, retired and downscaled. Now here’s the part I’d really like to emphasize and the original thought behind writing this; I don’t consider the way I live now as a decrease in my dreams and ambitions. Quite the contrary. As I’ve already explained, ambition has never been my strong suit and when I went against that naturality and tried to be something I simply am not, all hell broke loose.
I spent so much time trying to be what I thought everyone else thought I should have thought about myself being. That’s a confusing statement, right? Try living it. And there’s my point…most people do.
I now live with a slightly tightened belt in a flat that more than serves my modest needs. I get to see and talk to my loved ones whenever they or I need to and I have something I never could buy before; didn’t even know I was in need of it…time. Time to write, play guitar, meditate, succeed, fail. Time to just be. Time to be something I gave up for the fear of the oil/water interaction of rat-racing…AWARE.
One, to achieve happiness and inner peace, must cease setting unrealistic goals for themselves. At some point to enjoy any degree of control and consequently, joy, one MUST stop, bend and smell even the ugly flowers. There will be joy there…or not. But you must slow to a realistic pace. Running down the pike too fast puts you too far in front of the mistakes you are making to recognize them. I live on under a thousand dollars a month and currently have a car that is in need of work so I don’t get out to see folks as often as I’d like, but I think about and talk to them more than I did when the rat-race was buzzing all around me. But most importantly, I have time to think about things, who I am and who I want to be. And for once in my life, I feel like I have a modicum of…