The Comfort of Order

Order is the words. Organized. Defined. Always there when they are needed. Words are concrete. Unchanging. Predictable. And things that are predictable are comfortable: like the location of your bed, the place where you keep your food, where your money is kept, where your favorite people live, your name. A comfy, old sweater. Then, of course, we define these words using what? Other words. We use words to define words. However, if that is the case, what was the first word? We will get to that. Order is a fundamental principle that is vital to our lives. Indeed, making order out of a mess is what some would claim is the highest of human aspirations. In fact, some say it is our duty as humans to establish and protect the order. They are correct. Mostly.

The Challenge of Chaos

Chaos is the emptiness between the words. The white space. The limitless void of the unknown where the first and original cry or utterance likely emerged. I suspect that first word was a yelp or a growl. Who knows? These first words define themselves by their very sound: like BOOM, SPLAT, CRASH. We all understand a GROWL or a YELP regardless if there is a dictionary handy. Chaos is ALL that we do not know. The dark, scary places where order has not yet found its calling or form. All that crashes down on us, pulls the rug out from under us, breaks our heart and plants a curve ball right on the side of your head. Chaos challenges us and forces us to learn something new. To make the chaos more known. More understood. More like order. But there is always more chaos. It surrounds us daily scheming new accidents for us to make meaning of. Have you ever daydreamed while driving about closing your hands and taking your hands off the wheel? Odds are you are not suicidal. That is just the call of chaos. We need some adventure in our lives.

Finding the Middle Ground

These two personalities, of order and chaos, have opposed each other since time out of mind. As balanced human beings, we ideally straddle the middle ground with a foot in each camp. The line that separates order from the chaos. The borderlands. No man’s land. The place where known and unknown converge. The wild west. The Final Frontier. Tijuana. Chinatown. That weird bar in Star Wars. Casablanca. OZ. We love border towns. There is always a sense of wildness and freedom there. Possibility and danger. Adventure! Surprisingly, it is the place we find ourselves every day. On the path between what we know and guard and what we do not know and fear.

The Cosmic Dance of Destruction and Birth

The ancient Taoists call this phenomenon Tai Chi. The white-eyed black snake eating the black-eyed white snake who is eating the white-eyed black snake, etc. etc. for all time. Order and chaos in a cosmic dance of destruction and birth. Some people know this symbol as yin and yang. Some cling to the ordered principle and shun the chaos.  Unfortunately, this leads to boredom, submission, arrogance and eventual annihilation at the hands of barbarians. Some cling to chaos and shun order.  Similarly, this leads to feeling overwhelmed with no sense of where you are or where you are going. These diverging principles of light and dark rely on each other for meaning. It is not one or the other. It is both.The call of adventure into the unknown is bewitching and fun. The comfort of the Shire by a warm fire is also alluring and needed.

Start Small and Stand Proud

That being said, this week we are going to stand proudly in the borderlands, firmly on that squiggly line separating yin and yang, and reach a hand into chaos and a hand into order. Think about an aspect of your life that is chaotic and beyond your control. Start small. Then, using the community and mentors, scheme ways on how you may make that chaos into order. By doing this small exercise and raising the stakes little by little as we go, tackling larger and larger chaoses, we will become masters of calm order and high adventure.

I hope we find this week that there is no shortage of wild to tame. And nothing too tame that it couldn’t hold up to a healthy injection of the unknown.