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People can't always maintain control

Our daughter was recently married, and the minister talked to the prospective bride and groom about "com" words: commitment, communication, comradeship, etc. "Com" words tend to have positive connotations.

Since returning home, I've been giving some thought to a couple of "con" words: congeal and control. A friend told me that she found the following statement in a book she was reading. The heroine said, "I don't want my life to congeal." When I think about something congealing, I picture turkey gravy in the fridge on the day after Thanksgiving: a solid, glutinous mass. Most people would agree that to live a life that ebbs and flows is preferable to a life congealed. We need to be able to "go with the flow."

We like to think that we are in control, the master of our universe. But there are times when we must cede control to authority. For example, in the airport we must stand in long lines, remove our shoes and place carry ons in plastic buckets at the security checkpoint, wait to board the plane according to seat section, wait on the tarmac for takeoff. Then we must remain in our seat, with seat belt securely fastened, seat back and try table up during takeoff.

On one of our planes there were a couple of little Shitsus named Bandit and Tiger. They barked constantly at takeoff and landing. They were dogs so it was OK for them to bark. That's what dogs do.

I was equally unhappy. My seat belt was too tight, my eardrums were clogged, and I was facing the prospect of three more plane rides before I reached my destination. I was envious of those barking dogs. I felt like putting my head back and howling. Of course I resisted the temptation. I didn't even let loose with a tiny yelp.

It is at times like this that the Serenity Prayer comes in handy: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

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