March 3rd, 2019
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
“It’s a cruel and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful.”
― Hiromu Arakawa
“Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos…”
The twelve-step folks like to use the phrase “one day at a time”. I have my issues with the twelve-step program overall, but I wholeheartedly agree with that particular slogan. I don’t know how people can actually plan ahead for a week, or a month, or a year. I can’t. It’s not for lack of trying. In fact, I have just meticulously planned a cross country road trip for Karin and myself. I have everything written down, and all the reservations made. And I know that, at any moment, all of these plans may come to naught. Chaos hovers very close to me.
Chaos is a very Zen thing. I look for patterns. I look for order, even in places where it does not exist. I am not always comfortable with chaos. Maybe no one is. Zen implies that sometimes there is no perceivable order. Sometimes we cannot make of sense of things. They just are.
Zen is all about being in the moment. Zen is about seeing what is in front of you, and then accepting it. It’s very simple, but often very difficult. “Simple” and “easy” are not the same things.
Zen is not the only tradition that deals with chaos. Read the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. The entire book wrestles with the meaningless of life. Ecclesiastes is not often quoted by religious authorities, nor is it often used in Christian liturgies. This is probably because that text does not give a person a warm and fuzzy feeling. Many people seek comfort and solace in religion, and this book offers very little of that. Ecclesiastes, like Zen, does not give anyone safe answers. But then life doesn’t give any either.
All this sounds theoretical. It’s not.
I woke up at 3:00 AM wondering if somebody I love will survive the new day. I don’t know if she will, and I have no control over her situation. It’s a karmic crap shoot. She might be just fine. Or, I might get a call from the cops saying that she is lying in the morgue. I don’t know. I can’t know.
I can only love her.
This goes back to the “one day at a time” idea. Sometimes, “one day at a time” isn’t good enough. Sometimes, it needs to be “one hour at a time” or even “one minute at a time”. Or maybe it needs to be “right fucking now”.
Now is all that I have. It’s all this girl has. It is all that anybody has.
Chaos is not necessarily evil. It is simultaneously beautiful and scary. I prefer chaos to a suffocating sort of order that allows nothing new to happen. Even when I am worried and scared and profoundly disturbed, I still prefer to live in a world of surprises.