Thoughts, Actions, and Zombies: Taking Responsibility for What We Wish

I’ll admit it. In our house, we have been binge watching Downton Abbey. I’m not normally a binge watcher. I like time to absorb an episode, shake it off, or forget about it all together. The one exception is each new season of Orange is the New Black. Setting that aside, I’ll admit to complaining about the Bates/Bates Murder-Rape-Murder storyline on Downton. Not that the dishonourable Mr Green, not to mention the first Mrs Bates, didn’t get what was coming to them but I’m at a stage in my life where it’s hard to sit back and watch bad things happen to good people, even invented people. Last night I told my partner I thought this was worse than Zombies. And I’m being honest; I’m tired of Zombies too.

There you have it, the two things I struggle with: When bad things happen to good people and the walking dead. Maybe they are the same thing. Although, I did get a kick out of the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Putting that aside, I wanted to understand my feelings. Thinking about it now I realise most of the pain we suffer is at the hands of those we love, or

think we love, but our greatest detractor is ourselves. Yup, we do most of the damage. We beat ourselves up. We limit our opportunities. And we lie to ourselves every day.

Not long ago a read something interesting. Where it was and who said it I can’t say, but the gist was simple. “The only thing we have control over is our thoughts.” I fought with that idea for a long time. I kept thinking, we have control over our actions. We have control over our environment. We have control… Yikes! Sitting here, with the snow coming down for the umpteenth day, I’m long past the stage of enjoying it. Now I just want the crap to stop. No, we can’t control our environment. We can study it, learn to understand it, maybe even forecast it accurately, but control…not so much.

What about our actions? Can we control them? Yes. With discipline and comprehension, we can and should. After all, that’s what being an adult means. Maybe the words I read were more telling. Maybe I should have been told them as a child, teen, or young adult when I might have fought it, but it would have (in time) delivered a better understanding of the world. Maybe we should tattoo the quote to the arms of every child. Forget the Golden Rule. “Only I can control my thoughts,” should be indelibly written on one arm, and, “Only I am responsible for my actions,” on the other.

What a concept. Could we change lives by teaching ourselves and those who will follow the truth about control and responsibility? As popular as zombies are they are not real, and they are not us. We are neither the mindless hordes or victims of circumstance. If I had written the book stating we only have control over our feelings or thoughts I would have said we can learn to control our feelings, thoughts, and even our actions. In my mind, they are all connected. For feelings lead to thoughts, and thoughts to actions, but we are not zombies. We can take control at any time in that sequence. We can work to make the right thing happen and better understand ourselves when we don’t.

In the words of Nichelle Nichols playing Commander Uhura, “Be careful what you wish for.”