“Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that – and what did you do about it?”

Ah, only the 7th of January and the WordPress 365 Days of Writing Prompts has already got on to existential despair.

Perhaps because I already had one eye on tomorrow’s prompt (Spoiler Alert: it’s about teachers), I initially approached this topic in much the same way that I used to deal with a school or university essay assignment. Which is to say that I carefully dissected the exact words of read the question and then, with the haughty omniscience of spotty youth, concluded that: ‘well, if you could do something about it, you wouldn’t be helpless, would you?’ Hah!

Take that, WordPress! In. Your. Face.

Needless to say, I didn’t get a First.

I tend to feel helpless much of the time, something I attribute to the fact that I know my limitations. Well, everybody else seems to, and I’d hate to be left out.

However, I’d take issue with defining it simply as ‘not being the one at the reins’. Trust me, it’s perfectly possible to be at the reins and still feel helpless. It’s called matrix management.

Anyway, feeling helpless isn’t exactly the same thing as being helpless. On the one hand, you can be helpless without feeling it. This condition is known as ‘not having a clue’.  On the other hand, you can feel helpless without being it. This is more technically referred to as an aversion to being arsed.

The important thing is to know the difference, as is well summed up in what I believe is known as the ‘Serenity Prayer’:

‘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.’

Here’s an example. It’s raining at the moment and obviously I am powerless to make it stop. But I don’t feel helpless because there’s something I can do about it. Not go out.

Look, I really did want to come up with something worthy to say about helplessness. But there’s nothing I could do about it.

So, enough of this navel gazing. If you really want to hear something good on the topic of ‘Helpless’, I strongly recommend that you listen to this:

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