Is it just me or do other people ever wish they could control the world and everything in it?
Since March, this desire in me has been amplified like a concert in Croke Park. (Remember when concerts were a thing?) I used to live close to Croke Park, and would sit in the tiny yard that could barely accommodate two chairs and listen to the sound checks, the noise covering Dublin 7 in a thick musical bubble, like we were all in someone's musical jewellery box.
Since all of our lives have been upended and our plans and futures lie at the mercy of an invisible virus or a team of public health officials, the need to feel in control has strengthened in some of us. A woman I know had her wedding planned for August 9. Actually, it was planned for May 2, but with the lockdown and restrictions, she had to reschedule. On the evening of August 7 - when the Taoiseach announced that Kildare, Laois and Offaly were to be locked down with under six hours' notice - her wedding was yet again wiped out by this virus.
Now, I know that if cancelling weddings was the worst thing this virus could do we would all be doing Rock the Boat, but my point is I feel more powerless and at the mercy of an unknown force than I ever have. I don't like it.
I lose track of days, weeks and, at low points, struggle to remember when I last showered. I actively have to figure out what are things I can control and what are things I can't - and how to accept each.
Sitting masked on a Dublin Bus recently, I started getting anxious when two people with masks that didn't cover their noses got on. I calmed myself by writing a list on my phone of things I cannot control. The list grew:
Whether other people wear a mask. The future. Other people's motives. How long a pandemic lasts. Whether they will make another season of The Good Doctor. Whether Yankee Candle will bring back their aromatherapy spa range. The weather. People's beliefs about vaccinations. Other people's medical or physical health. The sound other people make when they're eating. The fact that two metres seems to mean different things to different people. How long it takes for the doors to open when you reach your bus stop so you can jump out, take off your mask and gasp in some fresh air.
I walked up Nassau Street and gathered myself. I've never had any control over those things. I'm really no more powerless now than I ever was. Sure, I used to feel confident that I could execute the plans I made, but really that was just luck.
So, if I've always been powerless, what are the things that I actually can control?
My attitude. How much sleep I get. How many news cycles I listen to in a day. How many minutes I wait after waking before looking at my phone. The books I read and shows I watch. What song verse I sing while washing my hands. How much time and attention I give to social media versus the parts of my life that actually bring me joy.
I get bored by the worthiness of the list. I imagine people rolling their eyes at me and my pop-psychological millennial wokeness. I'm even annoying myself with it.
My mind wanders. I'm always happier when I'm being creative, so I start to think about things I would love to be able to control.
Top of the list would be my desire to control the ripeness of fruit. I hate having to wait for bananas to turn yellow, but not as much as I hate biting into an overly ripe nectarine.
I wish I could control not ever bumping into people I know in the street. I hate bumping into people, full stop. The surprise, the awkward conversation, having to think of questions on the spot that aren't too intrusive. Ugh, it makes my skin crawl. If I could control that I would never meet someone I knew, whom I hadn't organised to meet, it would be a superpower.
I wish I could control bin day to suit when my bins are full. I wish I could control clouds to be just in front of the sun when you're trying to talk to someone or take a selfie. I wish I could control shoe sizes so that every size 10 would fit me.
I approach the studio to record my podcast. I see the producer walk in ahead of me and smile that I didn't bump into him. I wait and wait for the green man. Surely there would be no greater power than the ability to control traffic lights.