Can we really define chaos?
Let’s imagine you are in the deep woods taking a hike. This overgrown forest seems beautiful where every tree, plant and critter has found a perfect home and is in peace with the environment around it.
But, has this place been like this in perfect harmony at all times? That thought reminds you about the forecast of a thunderstorm this evening. Suddenly, the “order” you’re experiencing this minute doesn’t seem like a likely prelude to how “chaotic” things might look after the storm. Doesn’t it seem like a perfect state of order can be fleeting too?
Similarly, for someone who doesn’t understand the beauty of birth, a sprouting seed can look like destruction and its surroundings, the soil, the shooting root and stem coming out of a perfect seed might feel like chaos.
Why do we find our world chaotic?
Let’s first understand why we think of chaos as something that causes mayhem in our lives. Have you noticed how the pride you feel about yourself for keeping a clean desk, a clean home or a clean car turns into bitter self hatred for the slightest infraction in “orderliness”? That is because we have told ourselves that “order” is the true nature of things, while “chaos” is the ultimate disruption of the way things were really meant to be.
We spend hours carefully and attentively attending to the fuss and chaos in our lives instead of seeing things as they are. We find daily news chaotic, people prejudicial, borders of countries unstable and our lives in a big royal mess. Because things haven’t turned out our way, we pray for anything different than the current outcome – something less tragic.
We live in a world where we want to make sense of everything that’s happening around us. As a result, anything that doesn’t fit the rationale must be chaotic. Because our left brains like logic, we draw probable conclusions out of people’s actions and cautionary lessons over their violent and hateful acts.
But then, when accidents occur, major scientific discoveries happen, or we’re trying to find a life partner, or events like child birth are not chaotic, because that’s how “life happens.” Sometimes, we also mistake change for chaos and status quo for order.
Clutter and chaos give us anxiety and order brings sanity and pride. That’s why we want order to prevail over unpredictability and randomness.
How does chaos find us?
- When its forced upon us due to circumstances out of our control.
- Or when we find ourselves in unfavorable situations even though they were a direct result of our choices.
- Or when we end up giving too much credit to our feelings and emotions – getting our emotions up in turmoil.
How can we deal with chaos:
First, lets take a stack of who’s lived in a perfectly ordered physical space for more than a few minutes at a time or a perfectly ordered mental space for more than a fraction of a second?
Now, that we’ve no show of hands, lets see how we can deal with chaos instead of winning it.
Because we’ve stopped living close to mother nature, we’re living with these new definitions of how things are meant to be – imagining our world to be perfectly in order and in harmony with everything within it. Clean sidewalks, tall shiny glass windows are all man made, mother earth still has its share of droughts, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.
Inspite of you being a super planner and a master organizer, shit will always pile up in life. Step away from the chaos and be a witness to it. Center yourself. Realize that you’re not chaotic, your emotions, your environment, your child’s life or your work atmosphere probably is. Begin by changing your definitions of clutter and chaos.
Why we should embrace chaos:
We live in a transitional world, so fluid and ever changing that there are no guarantees for anything. In such a world, it pays maintain composure and keep our emotions in check. Seeing chaos as opportunity propels us easily into impending changes in our life and work that are beyond our control.
Understanding that birth and creation are transitional and necessary for growth help us manage what we might otherwise perceive as chaos.
Seeing change for what it is, rather than disruption, makes problem solving easy. Seeing chaos as an antidote to being inert and passive enables us to grow out of stagnation. Embracing chaos helps us thrive inspite of unexpected events because we’re are not afraid of exploring different possibilities to solve problems.
Just like how order is not the permanent nature of things, chaos is also fleeting and transitional in our lives that has so many variables that are beyond our control. Taoists have the Yin Yang symbolism to depict just this.
Yin is the Black serpent representing chaos with a white dot in the center indicating that order can be found even in the midst of chaos and similarly Yang is the White serpent representing order with a black dot in the center indicating that chaos can erupt anytime in the midst of order.
Think of life as a busy fair, and imagine you’re seeking the perfect merry-go-round to hop on. What do you notice all around as you search for the perfect dream ride – Chaos or celebration?