Finding Peace in Chaos

By Original by Ridpath? Restoration by Equazcion. - Print From John Clark Ridpath (1840-1900): "Cyclopedia of Universal History", 1923 found on http://www.hampton.lib.nh.us/hampton/biog/pooroldgoodycole.htm and image at http://www.hampton.lib.nh.us/hampton/biog/gilecory.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61539176

A lot of the time, I feel like the world is crashing down around my ears.  Furnace problems, car repairs, emergency vet visits, more car repairs, layoffs at work, sick family members, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, PULSE, Las Vegas, a political system bent on self-destruction – I feel the weight of all of it, as if I, like Giles Corey , was being pressed to death in the town square.  Like Corey, it seems as if the audience looks on bemusedly, like a circus act, while I suffocate.

It’s hard to believe there is any sense of fairness to this world.  Crushed under piles of rocks, it’s damn near impossible.  Equity implies order. Order implies a sense of symmetry, of uniformity, even if it doesn’t necessarily imply equality.  In an ordered world, you would know what to expect.

There is no order to this world.  It is unfair, tumultuous chaos.

Now, before you accuse me of being negative, let me say this:  chaos isn’t intrinsically bad. It’s also not intrinsically good.  Chaos is only a descriptor for what is.  There is no white hat/black hat here.

I know many people disagree.  They believe in a creator and a world of systems and rules.  Many people find comfort and hope in that, and I don’t desire to take that from anyone.  So let us say, then, if there IS an order to the universe, it is so indecipherable to humanity that it is virtually indistinguishable from chaos.  I think that most people can agree that the world appears chaotic, at the very least.

People like me (that assumes, of course, that there ARE people like me, which is very much in doubt, but I will continue on the premise that they do exist) are as likely to be the chaos as we are to be affected by it.  We tear through life, whirling dervish style, only to look back and be baffled by the devastation.   While we may think we cannot bear to be bound by Order, we in fact cannot survive without it.  I, in fact, need to have a bedtime, a daily ritual, a certain time of day for each task.  I veer away from this schedule at my peril.  It’s my own little pocket of structure in a sea of disorganization.

Well.  It’s supposed to be.

Truth is, I’ve never been very good at imposing structure on myself.  I have the best of intentions, don’t get me wrong.  I can make lists and schedules like I have trains running on my watch.  And if i plan everything just right then maybe I can fix everything and my life will be perfect.  Well, close, anyway.

So I keep trying.  I keep listing, scheduling, nit-picking my days away until I get it just right.  Sometimes I’ll even stay up to 1 am to do this.

Somehow I don’t think that’s helpful.

So I’m going to stop the planning.  No more late nights up with spreadsheets and calculators as my only companions.  No more grids drawn on notebook paper.

I’m going to do what I can to find peace in the moment.  If that means I get to the gym at 7pm instead of 6pm, then so be it.  Instead of fighting against the chaos, maybe I can find peace within it; a leaf floating on the surface of the river doesn’t try to bend the river to its will.  If it did, the currents would rip it apart.  There is peace in letting the river guide it.

My path might not be a gently flowing brook.  It’s more like the Rocky River rapids.  I think the principle is the same, though.  Fighting against the current is pointless.  Instead, I think that it will be better to travel with it.  There’s a mental exercise that comes to mind.  Instead of fighting against the tidal wave of your emotions, the goal is to allow them to crest and fall on their own – to see them without judgement and simply acknowledge their existence, accept them, and let them fade naturally.  I’ve tried this before with some limited success.

Maybe allowing myself to skip the planning will lift a few of those rocks off of my chest.