Embrace Your Chaos

You are a dam. No, I’m not trying to insult you; I am metaphoring you. Your life is an enormous series of events — a stream, if you will. The stream is constantly flowing from future to past, and there you are, right at the razor’s edge between the two. You are the floodgates between the chaotic happenstance of your future and the wistful regrets of your past.

Indeed, you have some control over the flow. You can decide to procrastinate and allow the reservoir to build up. You can be proactive and address the events as they come. You can even gloss over everything — open the gates to maximum — and let your life pass you by. What you cannot control, however, is the flow of events coming toward you. Your future is unknown and inevitably full of obstacles. The stream will never stop; you will encounter challenges until the day you die.

There exists a misconception that if you work hard enough or get old enough, the flow magically stops. You’ll reach a point in your life where you no longer have to worry about anything. This is entirely false and is an idea made even more insidious by the subconscious drive with which it can propel us:

“I just have to make it to retirement.”

“Once this project is over, I can finally relax.”

“When the kids are out of the house, I can do whatever I want.”

It’s a pacifying notion for the moment, but instead of simply being a comforting platitude, it really just fosters an unhealthy paralysis. There will always be deadlines to meet or taxes to pay or family members in need or a nagging desire to travel.

Obviously, not all of those things should disappear so easily into the ether of your past, but therein lies the issue. C’est la vie! These things are literally your life — the good and the bad. If you spend enough of your days wishing them gone, you’ll soon find your wish granted. The fact is that these challenges and obstacles you encounter (and your reactions to them) are the very essence of your being. Your past, present, and future are composed of what you do on a daily basis.

Furthermore, the mere act of existing is a fight against entropy — the natural decay of all things. Just as there is always a loss of energy due to friction, you will constantly be fighting against the collapse of your own world. Somewhat morbid perhaps, but the sooner you realize it, the sooner you can learn to accept and deal with it. There’s no such thing as a perfect life, and if you think there is, you will forever be fighting towards emptiness (unless you can travel faster than the speed of light).

Fortunately, this is not a curse. The chaos of your life is what gives it meaning. Or rather, the fulfillment of goals and conquering of obstacles define you. Nobody has ever been able to escape the grasp of time and decomposition; there is no satisfaction in merely making it to the end of your timeline. Instead, your worth is directly related to how well you handle your chaos and how hard you fight against your entropy. The stream won’t ever stop flowing, and it’s up to you to man the gates and spillways. And because you are your stream, any alteration is the death of your present self and the birth of a new self. Be careful of whom you aspire to be, for if you aspire to no longer have a stream, then you aspire for death in totality.

If a dam has no stream, what is its purpose?

Originally published at www.amgregor.com on May 12, 2014.