Perception of Control

None of us know what the future can bring us. We plan, we forecast, we interrogate the past to divine the future. We split the calendar into four quarters to make data on the past more manageable. We look forward to happy events in our own lives before knowing what it is we hold right now. We seek control over objects in our lives because we dislike the present. If we are not mindful that can be extended to people also. If only they could behave like I want them to behave. I hope that she is there when I get home, it will be perfect.

I walk into a store that sells iPods. Before I enter, I checked Irish prices against UK and American prices and reconverted them to Euro. I brought the comparative prices on a list with me to the shop to show the sales assistant. I control the prices and the market. Shop around says Mary Harney. You are a customer, you control the way the market decides the price of something.

Before I go to the range of iPods displayed in a locked case, I have a sense of what my future will be like with an iPod. I see myself being happier, with this product and with others outside of me. I like me more when I see this future that will be me-with-an-iPod. I’ll take that one, I say to myself, pause to hesitate, yes, that one. I am standing at the counter being told by the sales assistant that this one is very popular, a friend has one and has made good use of it. No cash changes hand, the card goes through. I am now outside the shop, I own an iPod. It is under my arm in a box. I control music. It is organised into categories, by album, by year, by track number, by date uploaded. I am now in an iPod world where I can link it to my computer and ‘ synch it’ with my own music collection. When I have it synch’ed I am ready to go, I am the person I thought I would be before I bought the machine. I want more; that’s not enough.

I do not control the world around me. I cannot control music or video or log in to a site that will tell me the 50 things in the news today that I asked for based on the words Ireland, politics, culture. I do not know the future, only what I hold now. They are my desires and I have a feeling I should know them. A friend pointed me to a story by Achill-born writer John F. Deane where he describes the time of our lives like being led by a taut rope, it slackens and then it ends until we find another taut rope to follow. Do you care why the rope slackens?

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