Losing Control

18 Aug

It has been that kind of day. Tried to turn on the television but I could not get the remote to work. Tried a second remote. No good. Tried them both at the same time, one in each hand, like a gunslinger. Still the stubborn LCD would not turn on.

The frustration with my Sharp Aquos is just the latest in a string of failed attempts to get the world to function the way I want it to.

The thing I love about the remote, when it works, is that you can get exactly what you want: the channel, the volume, the high or low def. You can choose Wii tennis or Guitar Hero, Al Jazeera or Telemundo, Mob Wives or Rachel Maddow.

How different it is dealing with people.

The problem I have with relationships is not that I want folks to disappear from my life because I can’t stand them. I just want my peeps at the right volume, tuned to the right channel, at the right time. I am a benevolent despot–not a demented Roman emperor. I only want to control other people sometimes, and usually all I need are a few minor adjustments.

I was trying to explain this to my son the other day: “It’s not that I don’t want your friends to come over. It’s that I don’t want them to come and sit on the porch from the moment you get up at 2pm until the moment you fall into bed at 2 am. One or two hours of college students with their colorful antics gives a liveliness and zest to the home ambience. Twelve hours turns it into outtakes from The Hangover.”

I know I know I know. You can’t control people. You can’t adjust their behavior. You can make requests, modify your own actions, and establish and keep boundaries. That’s it.

This does not feel fair at all. It seems as if we should be able to honcho the humans in our lives just a little bit: A tweak here, a tiny update there, an occasional reboot?

Here’s an idea:

Why couldn’t there be a remote for other people’s behavior with just a few simple commands: “Come Here”, “Go ‘Way”, “Be Nice”, “Hug Me”, “Love Me”, “Listen to Me”, “Tell Me I’m Not Fat”.

It seems like it could be a great thing–but what would we gain if everyone had one?

Problem is if we all had remotes for fine-tuning other folks, it wouldn’t really improve anything. People would still be trying and failing to manipulate each other, sending out mixed signals, battling, projecting, misunderstanding, even hallucinating their way through relationships.

I guess the only means to escape an uncontrollable world of frustrating human connections is to go back to where I started: grab the clicker, turn on the TV, and choose a parallel universe.

I’ll have to get the remote to work–but that I can master.


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