A universal remote control is an electronic device with lots of buttons and is often used to wirelessly operate a television set, DVD player and home theater systems. I actually have a hard time using my remote control because it has too many buttons on it and I forget the purpose of the buttons. You might be thinking, “But the words are on the buttons!” You’re right, but without my glasses, I can’t read the words and obviously, my glasses aren’t on my face when I’m watching television.
When I woke up this morning, the first thought on my mind was the impending layoff at work. It just hangs over my head like a big cloud of doom. You can go ahead and tell me that it is pointless to worry about situations that are out of my control, but it would be almost as pointless as telling the sun not to rise in the morning.
Later in the afternoon I went to a memorial service for Lanie Kruszewski who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding her bicycle here in Richmond. Although it was a very positive memorial, I had to fight not to cry during the whole service. By the time I got home, I was void of all energy which is why I became a couch potato.
Staring at the universal remote control for my television, I realized that I had a lot in common with it.
Features Of A Universal Remote Control
Let’s talk about the features of a universal remote control for a minute. Some of the buttons that can be found on a universal remote control include the following:
- Auxilliary, TV and Cable buttons
- Power button
- Setup button
- All On button (bright red in color)
- Volume button
- Channel button
- Mute button
- Numbers 0-9 buttons
- Select and Guide buttons
- Exit button
- Information button
- Last button
- Help button
- On Demand button
There’s a few of those buttons that might not be very self-explanatory, so the following is a description of their purpose:
- Auxilliary, TV and Cable buttons – The first thing you have to decide when using the universal remote control is which electronic device it is going to control. Are you going to use the television, cable or another piece of equipment?
- All On button (bright red in color) – Rather than choosing to use the remote to turn on one device, it can turn on all of them at one time.
- Select and Guide buttons – Since I have cable on my television, I can press the select and guide buttons to show me a TV Guide of sorts. I can view the scheduled program listing on every channel which is shown by time of day.
- Information button – When viewing the program scheduling, I can see the name of the show or movie, but in order to see a description of the listing, I have to click the information button.
- Last button – The last button will take me back to the last channel I was viewing. It is very handy for someone with a short memory!
- On Demand button – Currently my cable service offers something called “On Demand” which are very recent movies or television programs that have already aired. So if I want to catch up on a television show, I just click the On Demand button and choose the show to watch. Some of the movies cost to view them, so it is kind of like renting a video.
The universal remote control can do a whole lot more things than those I listed above, but hopefully you can see that it is a complicated electronic device that keeps everything conveniently at my fingertips if I use it correctly.
Are You A Universal Remote Control?
I have a very strong part of my personality that seeks order because it brings me peace. Having order and peace requires me to be in control so that I don’t get hurt. Right? Actually, having that kind of control is an illusion. Believe me on this one because I learned this lesson the hard way. However, I am still very much like a universal remote control. Maybe after my explanation, you will also think that you fall into the same category.
- Select and Guide buttons – I try to plan everything…literally everything. By the time I was twenty-one years old, I had a plan that took me all the way to seventy years old. That was pathetic if you really think about it. I wanted to have a set time for each event to take place. Having goals and plans are great, but being boxed into a rigid plan is hideous. No one can see that far into the future. I realize now that the reason I wanted to have my entire life planned out like that was to prevent sadness. I truly thought I could control the events in my life fifty years into the future. Hopefully you don’t fit into this category or if you do, it isn’t as extreme as I used to be.
- Exit button – I hate to admit it, but “exit” is a double edged sword for me. On the one hand, I have a hard time exiting a bad situation because it feels like failure. Even after I know it isn’t good for me, quitting almost feels impossible. On the flip side, when I’m in the midst of a really painful experience, I want to exit quickly. Actually, I want to runaway as fast as I can and as far as I can get from the pain. If only every situation had an immediate exit button!
- Information button – Why? But why? Yeah, that’s me. I want to have a logical explanation for everything. Unfortunately, some things just can’t be explained logically. Those things drive me crazy! I can really “why” myself to a point of totally stress and frustration. This actually goes hand-in-hand with the Select and Guide buttons. If I had control, knew everything that was going to happen and when it would happen, there wouldn’t be anything illogical. Therefore, there wouldn’t be any “Why? Why? Why?” situation. Yeah, I know that finding logic in illogical situations is impossible. It is just that I want more control.
- All On button (bright red in color) – When I’m doing something or feeling something, I’m totally into it one hundred percent. That’s good and bad. It’s good that I can submerse myself into a task or relationship and give fully of myself. It’s bad when I give fully of myself when the task or relationship isn’t good for me. Being used, unappreciated and taken for granted is usually the terrible side effect of choosing unwisely and giving my all to it.
- Last button – The universal remote control can easily take me back to view the last channel I was watching. It is especially helpful when I try to pick between two shows at the same time. In life, however, I can’t go back to the last situation or last year and have a do over. I get one chance at each minute of the day. What I fill it with and the choices I make in it determine the next minute and sometimes the rest of my life. If I choose poorly, I am stuck. There isn’t a “last” button in life. I can have forgiveness, but I can’t undo what I’ve already done.
I want the same kind of control in my life that a universal remote control offers when using electronic devices in my home.
Sometimes I feel that I have no control whatsoever in my own life. Usually when that happens, I find that I am stuck between two unpleasant choices. I have a hard time choosing between one or the other, so I stagnate between the two and become miserable. Or I’m in a situation that is truly beyond my control like the impending layoff at my job and I become paralyzed with the fear of change, the unknown and failure.
Can you see the usefulness of being a universal remote control? Well, forget about it. There is no way anyone will ever have that much control and no one will ever have an explanation for everything that happens in life.
What can we do about it?
Let go, live, find joy in the moment and don’t fear stepping into the unknown future.
Obviously, I have a long way to go before I get to that point. How about you? Are you a universal remote control?