Why We Have So Little Control Over Our Lives

Most of our feelings are based in our brains; they do not exist in the heart. When life gives us what we ask for, we have all we need to say no. I learned that from watching my daughter and her friends.

While writing about this week’s research on chronic fatigue syndrome, my mind goes back to one of the most painful moments of my life, while growing up in rural Missouri, where we had no television, very little social interaction, and the “family” house was a shack in the woods of the rural Kansas prairie. One evening, I was alone in the family’s bed, staring blankly at the ceiling. “What should I do?” a thought seemed to come to me. I knew I wanted a little company, but I didn’t know what. And then, there it was. “Let’s get a rabbit,” I said out loud, with the full realization that I was going to have to spend the night with my dead rabbit. I got up early the next morning to get the rabbit, which I bought from a pet store. But as I stood there in the bed, thinking that morning about the rabbit, the idea of leaving it there and just leaving was almost unbearable. I knew then, as I do now, that even though I had never seen the rabbit before, his death had been part of my life, my family’s life, since the day he had come into the world. I knew where he’d come from to be there so close to me, even if only for a little while. I understood the pain, and I knew how I wanted it, if I had it, to be over.

We have little control over our lives, even those where the pain was more manageable than my grandmother’s, where she lived through a heart attack that nearly killed her. 

My grandmother’s death is part of my daily life, and in many ways continues to affect me. However, even though I am able to see her now nearly every day. Even though I have a picture of her in my house, and she is always a reminder of what she was and what she could’ve been. It seems that even though I am not able to see my grandmother, I can still see her in my own life. We can see our mother’s, grandmother’s, and aunt’s stories in our lives. It is why I want to live another day, even if that means one more day without seeing my grandmother or my mother. It is why I find myself doing things now that I did not, when we were both alive. 

We have little control over our lives, even those where the pain was more manageable than my grandmother’s, where she lived through a heart attack that nearly killed her. 

What we may not recognize is that life is what we make of it. Even the very best of us have little control over the course of our lives. And with the right training, this can be a very positive thing. Training is all about the little things you can make a difference in your life. The things that matter. The things that allow you to be able to give your life a purpose. Training can take many forms – there is no set program that will fix everything, but there are programs that will help you grow as an individual, as a family, as an organization (I’ve been able to use my training in a few non-related areas to help my team increase our awareness of the problem of chronic fatigue syndrome and improve their response to it). 

My grandmother lived because of what she did all those years ago. She knew she was doing something important. I know she had the power to make a difference in her family. She never did it, but she could have. This blog is the product of the training I have received, and of the things I want to do now, in the hopes of helping more people to do the same.

For my grandmother, “all those years ago, when you didn’t have any friends” was a good place to start. She could have become a social butterfly, a friend for an extended family who had been through many tragedies. Instead, her life was made one by a rabbit, and she still lived that life today, with the same passion and the same drive. A few paragraphs in, I mention the many ways of helping your family to live a happier, healthier life, because I feel like I can be one of the people she learned the most from. The one who gets the opportunity to try out and share an idea that may make his or her life a little better. It is a simple idea, but it has a huge impact. My grandmother knew what she had to do, and she knew it mattered.

I hope to live another day, knowing that she did. That she was on the right path.