I’m reading Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, and she had an interesting passage on the great illusion of control we often have, especially those of us who have “success” at controlling many things in our lives.
Didion’s husband, John Dunne, has died very unexpectedly, and her daughter, Quintana, has just taken a turn for the worse after a mysterious, debilitating disease.
“One thing I noticed during the course of those weeks at UCLA was that many people I knew shared a habit of mind usually credited to the very successful. They believed absolutely in their own management skills. They believed absolutely in the power of the telephone numbers they had at their fingertips, the right doctor, the major donor, the person who could facilitate a favor at State or Justice. The management skills of these people were in fact prodigious. The power of their telephone numbers was in fact unmatched. I had myself for most of my life shared the same core belief in my ability to control events.”
And then, “Yet I had always at some level apprehended, because I was born fearful, that some events in life would remain beyond my ability to control or manage them. Some events would jsut happen. This was one of those events. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”
I can relate to this sentiment so well, and yet, I don’t know if my apprehension of the truth results from fear. In my case, I think it’s more a product of my faith. And in that case, I often find comfort in my lack of control. Though news or events may take me by surprise, Jesus knew all along, and holds my life firmly in his hand.