How To Find Benefits In Both Order And Chaos
The balance between the two forces makes for a happy life
I’m a creature of habit. I’ve always been. My brain finds an effective routine and builds a day or function around it. Generally, my mind will create this path and my body will dutifully follow along.
A path becomes rutted into the ground and a routine is developed. Often this cycle repeats for long periods of time before I’ll ever question why this route was created.
This is the world of order. It’s a world of the familiar. Humans thrive on the familiar. It’s why we have a home. It’s why we have a bed we lay our head down every night.
Why not just plop down and sleep just anywhere when fatigue hits you? Most won’t, choosing a bed of their own — the same bed or sleep area they always choose.
The order provides the comfort we all seek. It’s that stuffed animal we carried around as a kid. It doesn’t matter if the stuffing is coming out of it or the button-eyes are falling off. It’s still warm and comfortable.
You hug it and it hugs you back. It protects you from chaos — the darkness that envelops your room when the light is shut off. The unknown hides things. It’s the home of the monsters that live under your bed.
Old map makers would draw sea-monsters near the ends of maps because the unknown settled in these places and it was unforgiving.
There’s a term “beyond the pale”, which means outside the limits of standard convention. I’ve always heard the term comes from the base meaning “palisade” or fortification.
The Romans only got so far when they invaded Britain in ancient times. They’d build palisades or fortifications protecting their territory. If you ventured beyond this palisade, you were in mortal danger.
Stepping beyond the pale could open you up to whatever hid in the wooded areas beyond your knowledge. It wasn’t unusual for Roman scouts not to come back when they stepped beyond these fortifications.
It was a terrifying venture. When they stepped beyond the pale they’d bring weapons and armor with them. They’d also bring a heightened sense of awareness.
The order does provide comfort, but this warm routine can also function as a prison. That palisade of the order we build may be comfortable, but it can also lock us in.
That chaos we hide from does come to fret with danger. Most likely it’s not a Celtic tribe waiting to cut us limb from limb or a sea monster. But, there is the danger that lurks in that darkness of the unknown.
It’s the danger of looking stupid. It’s the danger of losing money. It’s the danger of losing status. It’s the danger of failure and all the pains that come with it.
But, chaos also hides the treasure behind those dragons and monsters at the end of the map.
Definition of Chaos: noun
1.) A state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.
2.) Any confused, disorderly mass:a chaos of meaningless phrases.
— Dictionary.com definition of chaos
Chaos has a horrible connotation. It’s generally something you try and avoid at all costs. Chaos goes hand in hand with mayhem and anarchy in popular opinion. If this vocabulary word was a person, you wouldn’t want to invite it over for dinner, breakfast, or lunch.
But, that chaos can have all kinds of untold benefits when you cross the palisade. Chaos just doesn’t encompass darkness and fear, it also contains novelty and new knowledge.
In order to learn anything new, you must leave your comfort zone and step beyond your fortifications. The same goes for new experiences that better you.
The symbol above from Daoism is seen all over our society. It symbolizes the concept of a dual nature of being as the Daoist sees it. The yin is the dark section and the yang is the light section. Each section has a piece of the other within it.
As John Bellamy explains in his TED-Ed video, “Everything has a seed of its opposite.” He also states the Daoists believe the best way to live in harmony with the world around you is to learn from both.
There must be a balance between the two forces — a foot placed between both worlds. This can be applied to your world of chaos and order as well.
Order is often lionized as appropriate and desired. Think of things you hear in your everyday life:
- “Get your house in order.”
- “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
- “Make a list or schedule.”
Order can also breed boredom and stasis if you keep both feet there for too long. It’s hard to grow when you’re standing still.
Chaos or entering the unknown is your way of learning something new. Whether you’re speaking to new people, learning a new skill, or thinking about something you’ve never thought of before it improves your mind.
A study by the University of California Irvine showed that learning may stave off the effects of aging on memory. Keeping one foot in the realm of chaos may just keep your brain young.
Another experiment done by psychology professor Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire studied luck. In his studies, Wiseman discovered luck wasn’t magic. It was something that can be improved upon by taking logical steps.
One of these steps was adding randomness to your life. Those who were considered “lucky” achieved that luck by breaking patterns. They chose different paths to work and interacted with different people regularly.
They consistently added variety to their life. So, they’d regularly leave their palisade and encounter chaos.
The idea of bringing chaos into your life may initially make you flinch, but it’s just embracing a bit of the unknown for your own personal growth.
A Foot Between Both Worlds
We have our habits and our world of comfort. It’s the stability that we crave and work our lives for. We attempt to turn the unknowns into knowns and create stability out of it.
But once we build our fortifications to protect our world of the comfortable, these palisades begin to hem us in. They constrict our growth.
You must develop a home with social connections, but you must also leave this comfort to experience chaos. The chaos is where you learn. It’s where you grow and develop.
As a creature of habit, this is the last thing I want to hear. My schedules and routines are familiar and work, but they also close doors. Over my life, I’ve attempted to leave the gates of the familiar and try new things.
Whether it be changing up my workout routine, reading work from new authors, or taking up martial arts. This dip into the world of chaos has usually made me better.
It’s also one of the hardest things you’ll ever do — leaving the fortifications of comfort you’ve assembled.
There is a danger of failure and humiliation in the unknown. But when you step into the dark and deal with the monsters, there’s often a treasure to behold. A foot in both of these worlds of chaos and order inevitably improves your life — sometimes even by accident.
Thank you for reading my ramblings. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, please share. Many of these ideas are based on various lectures in Jordan Peterson’s Biblical lecture series.