Yesterday, I came home with a headache. It was a slow throb at the top of my head, almost like the bone of my skull hurt. I laid in bed to read; I tried to nap but struggled. I hoped that I was not getting sick. Brooke asked me if she could get me a glass of water.
“No.” I said. “I can get one.”
“I know you can. But do you want me to get you one?’
I looked at her, perplexed.
Later in the afternoon, I sat down with our computer: we’ve had trouble loading certain internet pages. I don’t know if this is because our computer is old, or whether it has some sort of virus, or if our internet isn’t working properly. I know relatively little about computers, at least compared to my friends, which is generally how I measure whether I know much or little.
After an hour or so of working, and searching various help pages, I shut the computer in frustration. It still did not work quite correctly. It was like running with a limp: technically, it could do many things online, but not everything. It limped.
Brooke needed me to go to the store to pick up some food, and I left. Inside, I was seething. The computer did not do what I wanted it to: I could not control it; I could not coerce or convince it to load my email properly. As I pulled out of our neighborhood, I told myself to calm down (which always works).
But this time, I saw a connection. I thought of how Brooke asked me if I wanted something and I said no; I thought of how I became angry when I could not get the computer working. This small word, control, sat at the root of it all.
In Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert says the only two questions that humans have ever fought over are: How much do you love me? and Who’s in charge? I think of this need we have for control, and how it proliferates my life.
Sometimes, the need for control is so deep, that I cannot even accept a glass of water from my wife.
I drove to the store, telling myself that I could not fix the computer. We need to take it to the Apple store, and see if it is repairable or simply too old. I told myself I couldn’t do it: I didn’t have control. I drove reminding myself that I need to accept glasses of water from my wife. I drove as the sun set over the wine-colored mountains and cars turned their lights on, and small dots of light appeared in the darkness.