Out of our control…or so we think

In re-reading Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid a few days ago, I ran across a passage which, though minor and irrelevant to the story, really struck me. It’s not anything epiphany-worthwhile but something we tend to forget. Kincaid writes,

“How [does someone] get to be a person who is made miserable because the weather changed its mind, because the weather doesn’t live up to [one’s] expectation? How [does one] get to be that way?” (p. 20)

She makes a good point. Often times, people would say that they are sad or depressed because of the weather- “Oh it’s raining and so glum-looking outside” or “oh the sun has not shined in days… I am not feeling too hot.” And while I do recognize that SAD does actually happen to people who have not seen sunlight for an extended period of time, for the most part, the people who make these sort of remarks haven’t seen sunlight for at most a few days, and it is towards this type of people to whom I am addressing. Why do people let the weather, something they cannot control, dictate how they feel? Why do people let the weather get them down or make them happy? Sure, the environment in which we live plays a role in our emotions, but we don’t have to let it completely control our lives. We have enough and more control over our inner selves than the weather, which is frankly minor. In addition, though we don’t have control over the weather and its unpredictability, we at least have enough power to accommodate it and deal with it.

In the broader context, we cannot let things we cannot control drive the way we think and act. Yes, things outside of our control, like the weather, will interfere with our plans and goals, but we have to learn to accommodate them and adapt to them. We might complain while we do so, but we are still trying to make the best of them. In no way can we let them dictate and control how we feel or act. Just like how we can’t let the weather control how we feel that day, we cannot let what other people do or anything uncontrollable dictate our lives. We just need to respond to it and fight/accommodate it to the best of our abilities.

I think a lot of us, or at least I, tend to forget that, and when something unexpected/ out of our control happens, we freak out and surrender ourselves to it emotionally. We become frustrated, uncertain, and forgetful of our original goal and what we really have to do. In this sense, we lose even more control because we throw away the control that we have over ourselves at the same time. This should not be. We should be mindful that we are stronger and more independent than the things that we cannot control, whether it is the weather or the actions of someone else, and we can deal with them while still keeping our original goals in our minds and work towards them.

Furthermore, if one really think about it, by accommodating the uncontrollable, we are actually exercising control over the uncontrollable since we are neutralizing their effects on us. We are making sure that they don’t impact us as much they potentially can, and that’s more power to us. We are, in fact, in control of ourselves. What Lucy in the book reminds us of is that we have more control of ourselves than we think we do, and we should try our hardest to not let the things over which we have no control dictate our lives. We just need to learn to live with them and be friends with them by incorporating them into our lives.