Column: Picking the engine and caboose for your train

It was 1959, and our scrubby-looking family of six was stuck. A boat strike had snared us in Italy — and we loved every minute of it!

It was 1959, and our scrubby-looking family of six was stuck. A boat strike had snared us in Italy — and we loved every minute of it!

Inexpensive lodging, fabulous food, and effusive people — what could be better?

One afternoon, while our parents were napping, certain children ages seven to nine decided to have a little fun.

Opening a bag of balloons, we created a wobbly pile of water-bombs at the sink, and then quietly crept toward the window.

While our parents slowly inhaled and exhaled, we dropped the missiles, one by one, three stories down toward the sidewalk.

Depending on our aim, unsuspecting passers-by would look up in surprise, flash a grin, or holler a few unintelligibles.

Then mother awoke. Our gleeful faces drew her to the window, and she looked out just in time to have a fist raised in her direction.

Delight. Frustration. Amusement. Uncertainty. Remorse. Emotions. For better or for worse there are plenty of them. We are not machines, and can be sent off on an emotional trip with the slightest nudge. Consider a pinch, the wedding march, chocolate, those flashing lights, or even the scent of grandma’s house.

But who’s the boss here — can we control what we feel?

Take the couple necking in the back of a car.

They hear a knock on the window, and, wondering if it is the police, look up to see the girl’s mother. Can emotions change, and quickly?

“It is a deadly error to fall into the notion that when feelings are extremely strong we can do nothing but act on them,” says Elisabeth Elliot in Discipline: The Glad Surrender.

Emotions are powerful feelings that need a corral or a defined pathway. If we modify, interpret, and direct them, feelings are gloriously enriching. This can be done! To change our emotions we need only to alter our thinking.

In order for us to chug happily along, Patsy Claremont proposes that emotions be the caboose, not the engine. Considered, included, vital, but not the driving force.

Some years ago, I observed a therapy session for an attachment-disordered child. The child seemed emotionally numb, but in truth boiled with untamed feelings. We can train ourselves to avoid the twin evils of freezing or scalding others, but maintaining that ability takes the combined working of both the head and the heart.

Our personalities need integration. The scattered pieces of who we are need to work together. Our minds can filter and improve our impulses. This planet craves decisions that are made by principled minds and warm hearts. And we have hands, feet, and words to put those values into action.

Oscar Wilde knows what we can be, someday. “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

For me, that someday could have started ‘way back when, except that I had to go and pull my mother away from all the fun at the window.  LOL@wltribune.com.

Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The next welding program being offered at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus will be tuition-free thanks to federal funding. (Thompson Rivers University photo)
So you want to be a welder?

TRU Williams Lake offering tuition-free program

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

Williams Lake RCMP are asking the public for assistance locating Marion Louise Billy. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake RCMP seek woman wanted for theft, weapon possession

RCMP released the information Thursday, May 6

Audrey McKinnon was officially named the NDP nominee for the federal riding of Cariboo-Prince George. (Twitter)
Audrey McKinnon confirmed as Cariboo Prince-George federal NDP nominee

The nomination comes during speculation the federal government

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read