An old friend used to tease me that I got paid to color, sword fight, play CandyLand and Mouse Trap. Yea I know what you are thinking, who doesn’t? The truth is I bet most of us are playing some of these games, especially Mouse Trap, on a regular basis. Let me explain for those of you who haven’t played Mouse Trap. First off, it takes twice as long to set up as play. It is this jumble of pieces that fit together and into the board to stand vertical and interconnect. It is unstable, uneven and illogical in its structure. I hope you are seeing some parallels here to other circumstances, back to Mouse Trap. There is a diving board, a metal ball, a set of rickety stairs, a stop sign paddle all these things are interconnected and when one of them is triggered they all get tripped in sequence causing a basket to capture a mouse with the cheese. It is in essence a riotous form of domino’s where you stand them up and tap the first one over to see them all go down only far more precarious.
The nature of life is precarious and it sometimes leaves me lying in bed at 2am micro-managing and scripting what needs to be done, said, written not only for me but all those I am interacting with. I go over the script of what I will say, then what they might say. After 30 minutes of working out every possible scenario I move to the next item and dissect, analyze and prepare for that. Each task is on my “to do” list which is in color coded and alphabetized. I am not unlike General Patton preparing for battle. I can spin myself up into frothy mess by 4am honestly believing I am in control. Ah well…. crazy is as crazy does.
A few weeks back my beloved sister Chris was visiting. One morning I found her sitting at the end of the sofa clutching her coffee with a haunted look on her face. There were worry lines, dark circles and the start of a tic below her left eye. That is the lazy one anyway and in times of stress it goes rogue. I had seen that troubled look in my own mirror many times, minus the tell-tale tic. I tend to retain fluids in my state of hyper-control and stretch out my skin starting to take on the characteristics of the Michelin Tire Man. It is as if peeing or sweating would breach a level of control that would trigger hell breaking loose or at the very least a very long bathroom break at an inconvenient time.
Chris was overwhelmed and trying to orchestrate all the pieces of her life. What I have learned about this is when I am overwhelmed in this way I am trying to control things I have no control over. What I do have control over is how I react to what happens around me. That’s it. That’s all I got. I sometimes have influence over others but that is rare and usually there are copious amounts of adult beverages involved. What I explained to Chris that morning is what she had was a game of Mouse Trap. We get the ball rolling and that is the extent of our action, what happens after that is out of our hands. Things come crashing down, trip switches, causing the skinny guy to jump in a tub and play out however gravity, fate and whimsy choose.
There are times we just have to let go and let some unseen forces take the wheel and have faith that whatever happens we can work with. The truth is whether we let go or not the result is the much the same in the game. We can choose to white knuckle and worry as things go flying or relax and watch the arch of the boot as it kicks the stop sign, marveling at how it all flows. We are not trapped at the end but rather free to take another turn and see what new options are offered up. Bottom line: it really is worth the long set up just to watch the pieces click together and witness that skinny guy go flying.