XXII – Control


“Stop trying to control everything and just let go! LET GO!” Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

“Control is an illusion, you infantile egomaniac. Nobody knows what’s gonna happen next: not on a freeway, not in an airplane, not inside our own bodies and certainly not on a racetrack with 40 other infantile egomaniacs. Nobody knows and nobody controls anything. Now, you’ve gotten a glimpse of that and you’re scared.” Dr Claire Lewick (Days of Storm)


Rui Vitoria, Benfica’s football coach, when asked on why he had never brought up the fact that a lot of key players weren’t available due to injury, replied “I don’t complain about the things I can’t control” and I thought, “Here’s a man who doesn’t complain at all”.


What is control?

I tend to agree with Dr Claire’s assessment – control, for the most part, is an illusion. I propose that control is a product of our minds, with the sole function of appeasing our fears.

– I’m afraid of traffic accidents, so I drive safely, attentively, respect the rules and have my car regularly serviced. I’m in control of my safety.

– I’m afraid I might get cancer or a heart attack, so I eat healthy food, exercise and do regular check-ups. I’m in control of my health.

– I’m afraid my house might burn, so I install smoke detectors and have fire extinguishers in accessible places. I’m in control of my property’s protection.

– I’m afraid I might go hungry, so I plant potatoes and breed sheep. I’m in control of my nourishment.

– I’m afraid of lacking money, so I endure a job that I hate and that’s slowly killing me by working long hours and draining my vitality. I’m in control of my job security.

– I’m afraid of a nuclear war, so I build a bunker with water and food for 10 years. I’m in control of my survival.

Understandably, none of the above examples is accurate – I’m in control of nothing. There are numerous factors, unforeseen circumstances that will change the anticipated end result.

However, whilst we can never really control anything, we are able to contribute to and influence the outcome of whatever it is we’re trying to achieve:

– if I drive slowly and safely I’m less likely to have an accident;

– if I eat well and exercise regularly my chances of having a serious health problem are reduced;

– if I have no smoke detectors nor fire extinguishers, my house is more likely to burn in case of a fire;

– if there’s a nuclear war, we’re all fucked.

In the end, it comes down to probabilistic reasoning and risk management.

That is why I work hard at educating my girls; not because I want to ensure they will become extraordinary human beings, but because I want to increase that probability. I work hard at conveying my values so they will be principled women, who look after each other, nature and others.

I know I have an immense influence in carving their characters, but I cannot control what they’ll turn out to be. Is it possible they both become immoral and dishonest people? Yes it is, but not probable.

Having said all of the above, I also put up for consideration the following: There is in fact one thing we can control… our decisions. Not the outcome, just the choice itself.


5 thoughts on “XXII – Control

  1. Dear Diogo,

    How can you be so sure that we can in fact control our decisions? Couldn’t it also be an illusion, I mean, the biggest illusion of our lifes!?

    Well, let’s put some entropy here:
    1- In meditation we notice how involuntary our toughs can be. If they are involuntary, where the hell do they come from? What make us think that the thoughts and ideas are really “ours”? If they aren’t, our choices are strongly conditioned right from the start, and to what extent we can say that are “our” choices?

    2- In science we usually believe that nature follows laws (laws of nature). Well, if we knew all those laws, everything would be predictable. If everything were predictable, then where the hell do we fit the free will?!

    Just saying😉
    Maybe “conscience” is the one who solves the whole puzzle…
    By the way, I have never seen you surfing so well!
    Cheers mate!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. First of all, thanks for finally commenting on my words. And what a comment, took me awhile to fall asleep… thanks 🙂

      When writing the last paragraph I believed that we can indeed control our choices. After reading and re-reading your words…… I still do. Until all laws of nature are uncovered I can’t be sure, but all available evidence shows me I do have a choice because “I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am”(1).

      I believe that our thoughts are really ours because they derive from our experiences. I don’t think one can think about something that one hasn’t experienced (I don’t mean directly but through others as well). Therefore, I believe that my choices are the end product of my experiences, the experiences communicated to me and my reasoning.

      I think that ‘New Thoughts’, ‘New Ideas’, are the product of our minds’ innate restlessness and its capacity for continual association (how one thought leads to the next and so forth – whilst meditating, I started thinking about something mundane that happened during the day and ended up running on top of a moving train after 5-6 iterations). Did I ever run on top of a moving train? No, but I’ve seen it done.

      As far as free will goes, I believe it to be a religious scam that blames Man for all that’s considered evil. Nevertheless, if there is indeed a theory of everything that ties together all laws of nature and proves that all is predetermined (predictable) and we do not have a say in anything, then free will is nature’s ultimate scam. It is nature’s last secret, the one that hides our irrelevance in everything. It’s the secret that keeps us from despair.

      I don’t think that science is trying to prove there are laws governing us all without our input. Being led by Man, science is trying to address our need for ‘feeling in control’ by trying to prove the opposite. We’re keen to show that in fact, not all is predictable.

      What do you think? Keep it coming, Paparuco!!

      (1) Rene Descartes (Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served—at minimum—as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought.)
      From Wikipedia


  2. Hi All! I’m new here but will leave my 2cents. One of the things I have come to see for myself is that there are limits into what a human being can grasp. We have a intellectual drive to understand things around us but we might not have all the tools to be able to “see” the order under the apparent chaos around us! When we understand how our mind works, we can see why we got trapped in words and concepts and we still do. We need to navigate in life, and it’s good to have different pair of “eyes” (mind, senses, emotions), but let’s not miss our main purpose – we are human beings and we need to be more and think less 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your words. They are indeed thought provoking! Though One can argue that thinking is one of the things that makes us be more. Even what makes us human. 😉
      Make sure to come back and leave “more cents”… they are most welcome!!


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