Monday, August 31, 2009

Illusion of Control

I take my thoughts from a book I am reading for class called Policy and Evidence in a Partisan Age by Paul Gary Wyckoff.

If you had a chance to read my last post, you may have realized that there are certain things in life that happen, where I learn certain things. Sometimes, I forget the little life's lessons and am reminded of them later. For some reason, I can't seem to hang on to certain little lessons I learn, and in turn realize that I have been wasting my time learning the same things I already know or knew. What happens is that the little lesson learned happened in one circumstance at one point in time. When an entirely new circumstance happens, for some reason I tend to forget that there are some pretty core principles that I learned during the last life lesson that can most certainly be applied despite the new circumstance.

The little lesson I am referring to is this: Control. I am in control of making decisions in my life. However, I am not in control of the decisions other people make in this life. I also feel that despite the fact that I am in control of making decisions, that ultimately, God knows all and gives me the opportunity to realize that if I want to be happy, that I need to recognize that He makes and keeps His promises. One thing to keep in mind while reading the rest of this post is that I know I am not a pawn in some cosmic-universal game. I am not a puppet to be controlled by God. No, I am here to choose. With every choice comes a consequence, no matter if the consequence is deemed as 'positive' or 'negative.'

In the book I attributed earlier, it states, "Psychologists have demonstrated that humans engage in an 'illusion' of control' rather than admit the cold truth when nothing can be done." Such is the life of decisions we make not just in policy and government, but also in relationships. That no matter what, there are other parties and variables in place that once you look, you realize how little control you really do have because there are so many 'actors' involved in the situation. The book talks about the patent medicine stage, when medical marvels were discovered as treatments for the common cold, bronchitis, jaundice, constipation, fatigue and even cancer. It reminds me of the "doctor" in Pete's Dragon who was so keen on selling medicine for the common cold that he claimed it relieved the cold in 2 weeks time. The conclusion this author draws on relates to systems in the government such as welfare, but makes these keen observations about theories and treatments that people believe in. The first, I described earlier...that people want to find relief for their afflictions. The second is that people don't know any better, and don't "have the tools for sorting out conflicting claims."

I would have to say that this statement is pretty pertinent to what I am experiencing right now. The problem is that half of the tools are revealed to me in regards to what I need to do in the meantime...and it seems to me that experience may be the only way for me to gain all the necessary tools to sort out this conflict that so avails me.

In my institute class, we are discussing Revelation Chapter 2. During these versus, it is pointed out that the people are turning to Balaam....the man who fooled himself into thinking that he controlled the ways of God. Our teacher made reference to a dream Balaam had of a man arguing with a donkey. The donkey in this context represented Balaam...a stubborn, dumb animal also known as an ass.

It is time for me to remember the tools I have been given to find happiness instead of trying to control where that happiness is coming from. I must first be happy in the Lord, who is #1 in my life...and not #2. When I put Him #1 happiness comes because of that relationship. Time to throw out this ideological sense that I am in complete control...because I'm not. So, I leave you with these thoughts and a half-full tool belt on my waist...because I have a feeling I don't have all the tools yet.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Things I forgot

There are many things that I often forget and constantly need to remind myself of. I find that writing them down helps me remember. This past week I forgot:
  • Having long hair can sometimes be a pain. I was walking through my carpeted living room the other day, long hair catching itself between my toes. Last year I purchased "The Magic Broom" made of plastic thistles that is supposed to magically get all the hair out of the carpet, creating a space where hair doesn't manage to sneak in between toes. Alas, even after having magic-broomed and vacuumed the area, I still find hairs between my toes. Looks like I will be wearing socks for a while.
  • My body is capable of great things.....but not others. No matter how hard I try to remind myself, I always tend to forget that my body hates running. It screams murder to its joints and cramps. It really prefers elliptical, biking, swimming, hiking, snowshoeing, anything but running.
  • Preparing for things pays off. I always forget that when I prepare myself for any situation, that I am better off. I loved that I read all my homework and read my syllab(i) prior to class this past week. I felt like I was ahead of the curve and felt confident that I would do well this year. Perhaps I should do my homework in advance this semester too.
  • Let it roll. I keep forgetting that just because I have gone out on more than 7 dates with someone, it doesn't mean that I am automatically a 'girlfriend.' Something I constantly forget, I have to remind myself that just because I am ready for the next step, doesn't often guarantee that someone else is. In any relationship....
  • Even 20 minutes of exercise a day can change a life. It is true. 20 minutes of cardio and weight lifting really gives me the strength to carry out certain tasks. I find that I am not as tired, I look better in my clothes, which is great for confidence and I wonder why I don't just dedicate that much time to exercise every day.
  • It is always good to hear from people I haven't heard from in a while. Really, I love it. Even if it means catching up after 10 years...I cherish those moments. Why don't I do it more?
  • Just because you put on your signal while driving, doesn't guarantee that people will let you in. Period.
  • It is always better to be 10 minutes early than 10 minutes late. Maybe a little excessive, but my family and I would always arrive to the airport 1 hour earlier than the 1 hour allotted, meaning, we would be at the airport 2 hours before our flight left. I found that it wasn't just the airport that we would arrive early to. Church, school, meetings, movies, plays, etc., are all great examples of events that we would arrive early to. I am glad my dad instilled in me a certain sense of 'flat tire' time, otherwise I wouldn't have made it to class on time the day there was a ton of construction and everything was down to one lane on the first day of school.
  • People watching rocks. I sometimes get so caught up in what I have to do that I rarely people watch. This week was different. I took time to see: 1. An old man totally jamming to his rock-n-roll in his yellow slugbug, he was seriously like 70 years old. 2. This older gentleman falling off his chair and 10 people went to help him up....made me cry...there is good in this world. 3. Someone helping a child 4. A cute couple on their first date
  • Sometimes when solidifying meeting appointments, it is good to go over all the details one more time. Something I always seem to forget is that people are not in my brain. They can't read my mind all the time...or if at all. It is very important when talking about meeting someone that you hash out the details, even if they were said earlier in the conversation...just to be safe.
Well, now that I have written it down, it should work, right? Let's see if I can remember these few things...wish me luck.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Starting School

I don't know what it is about the first day of school that gets me all hopped up and excited for life. I remember my very first day of kindergarten. I was a shy (believe it or not) 5-year old, still in the finger-sucking stage of my life. My first-day-of-school picture shows that I am wearing a pink dress and a white sun hat (very 60's appropriate), which I found out later that day that I was not allowed to wear inside. I remember my mom and dad going on and on about how this day was unlike any other day...that it was special. I think even my dad dropped me off for the first day. There I was, with Heather Barry, my BF at the time, standing there not knowing how important this journey was going to be. Then I met Ms. Stanlis. Looking back, she reminds me of an older Mrs. Weasley, but with a strictness in her brow that meant business. As strict as she looked, she didn't lack in fun either.The next thing I know... off my mom went...a bewildered daughter she left.

It isn't like I haven't had however many first days of school, but for some reason, today felt like my first day at kindergarten. Granted I have been enrolled at classes at the U since January, I couldn't help but feel again...bewilderment. What am I getting myself into (I mean that in a truly excited way of course)? On the way to my first class, I could just sense the excitement in the air....everyone wanting to get to their first class on time and make a good impression on teachers, fellow students, whatever. I could sense the general excitement...and sometimes dread emanating off every person I passed along the way.

I was appalled at the traffic on the way to the university. Granted I had class during the same time of day in the summer, the campus was almost completely deserted. Even in the fall, it seemed a bit empty. However, today was a different story. It took me an additional 30 minutes to get to class, just because of the build up. I guess you could blame it on all the road construction, but I would like to think it was because it was the very first day of school and people were just too excited to wait at home anymore and everyone had to be up on campus at 9 no matter what. As it seems to go, I am sure I will see it die down as we approach winter....but for today, I am going to relish the moment.

No naked dreams yet, but I am sure they will come as finals approach. Ah seems like so far away. But STOP, we are talking about today! New books, new teachers, new peers, new clothes (not really, but the thought of them is enough), new pens, new pencils, new pages to be filled with wisdom. How can I not get excited?

Monday, August 17, 2009


I agree with regulation. I think it prevents chaos and breeds innovation that enhances creativity to find alternative and legal means to achieve similar and potentially better goals. However, I think that over-regulation creates underground chaos and ultimately destroys democracy.

What if the government were to regulate what is written on blogs about government issues? How much regulation is too much regulation? Just wondering what you thought....