Thoughts On Chaos

song in my head — “It’s A Job” by Wolfie’s Just Fine

In this life, chaos is unavoidable. We all know it. We sense it. We see it. Chaos, suffering, the unexpected… these things surround us all the time. It’s in many ways, the human condition. So this being the case—that no amount of human planning or programming or control can do away entirely with the unexpected, with chaos, then the only thing that we can do to find harmony or peace is to reframe the way in which we look at chaos. Because like almost everything else, there are two sides to the chaotic coin, a lightness to the dark.

Our most human of intuitions is to look for patterns, to look for a cause and effect. With the micro chaos, sometimes this is easy. We ran over a nail; therefore we have a flat tire. Mystery solved. With the big stuff, though… this can be more difficult. This healthy person I know now has cancer. They have 6 months to live, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

That phrase, “there’s nothing anyone can do about it” has evolved into a pretty prevalent axiom these days: “It is what it is.” While on its face, this is a rather cynical or dismissive way to approach everyday chaos, (and that’s usually how it’s used), it’s a saying not without its truth. It really is what it is. But recognizing “it is what it is” and being at peace with “it is what it is” are two very different things.

The word chaos is primarily used to describe a state of total confusion or disorder, something unorganized and unbridled. But there’s another definition that I think is worth pondering for our purposes. It’s often seen as Chaos with a big C, related to the idea of the creation of the universe, the creation of all things. Chaos—that place of disorder before order is introduced—is a state of things in which chance is supreme. So if there’s a CHANCE that bad stuff we “don’t deserve” will come our way, isn’t there also a chance that GOOD things we don’t deserve will come our way? And not only that, but what if every moment of chaos, every state where chance is supreme, was approached with the mindset that not only will Good possibly come from this moment, but that Good ultimately CAN come from this moment. The possibility of either is there. It’s just a matter of how you look at it.

—G