Spiraling into control


This is how it works: I do something that I usually put off, or make excuses for, or decide that I don't need to do. Working out, making a dinner of actual food instead of popcorn, finally tackling the mountains of laundry that seem to grow out of nowhere from the bottom of my closet. Even something extremely simple, like finally taking out all the recycling, or taking all the clothes hanging off my bedroom door and hanging them in the closet. (My ability to transform basic mundane tasks into huge inconveniences that must be put off indefinitely is, I daresay, almost a superpower.)

So I was saying, eventually the day comes when I do one of those things. And because I spend a lot of my life feeling out of my depth and incompetent, even the simplest push back against the boulder of inertia gives me a twinkle of accomplishment. And like a pigeon in a behaviorist experiment, I want to feel that twinkle again, so I look around for more levers to push. That teetering pile of unopened mail? Sorted, tossed, filed, dealt with. That two-minute phone call I've been avoiding for months? Made. Postponed appointments? Scheduled. And so on, until one morning I wake up happy to start the day, instead of groaning and burrowing under the covers to put off life and its demands for just a few more precious minutes.

That point has not yet been reached in the current cycle, I'm sorry to report. But I seem to be spiraling back up into a mental space that feels a bit less like being under constant siege. A space that makes me feel like a grown-up with at least a smidgen of control, however illusory, over events in her life.

I like it. I don't care if it makes me pigeon-like: I plan to keep looking around for more levers to push. I'll take satisfaction anywhere I can find it, frankly. (I think I lost my pride in grad school.) If I'm going to be spiraling anyway, might as well try to make it in a general upward direction.