Living with Chaos
The paradox of reality and the wisdom of the fool.
In the eternal battle between order and chaos people often oversee the fact that most chaos in the human world is caused by the organization of order. If one would be more capable of going with the flow, I think, much more could be achieved. This is about surrendering to creation, versus the ability to control creation. This is a short plea to embrace chaos (read life as it happens) much more.
Reality Will Strike
Life has always its unexpected surprises for us, just when we think we have it made: disaster, disease, death, adultery, rebellion, confusion and misunderstanding happen, to name but a few. And we don’t like it. Our thinking gives us the illusion that we can do something about it, get it under control, preferably the way we deem best for ourselves and others. We are control freaks. We love organizing through targets, objectives, goals, regulations, procedures and rule books. Like if we can enforce our will upon reality. We work very hard to handle it all, until the inevitable occurs.
Ways To Deal With Chaos
How do we deal with chaos in our lives? Some of us seek more grip through perception of reality. And some of them discover, hurrah, the power of surrendering or acceptance. Others stuff themselves so full with knowledge that reality disappears behind it all. But they feel they understand it all know. The most dangerous cases throw themselves on, what the Dutch call ‘makability’, the belief that we can control destiny. It’s managers making new rules and procedures after each accident hoping to prevent similar trouble in the future. And yes, there’s a lot going for it, it creates results and changes en seems to be very successful for a while, but it is a dangerous trap. Many solutions often become a new problem in their own right.
Order Gone Wrong
Landscape architects in the Netherlands were damming rivers into straight channels until big floods demanded that the rivers got room again. In the Sahara Western do-gooders started to fight dysentery. They build wells that reached pure water way below the muddy wells the Saharan nomads used for centuries. Then all men and all animals got sick. Only then they discovered the very delicate balance at play here. These people needed desperately the salts and minerals from the muddy wells to stay healthy. The (still ongoing) American war to save the world from terrorism brought so much more instability and chaos than it resolved. The possible threats are rising instead of diminishing.
Seeing The World As You Want To See It
But do we stop it or learn from it? No, leaders, bosses and dictators in all sizes seek to bring order. They also often push disorder, damage and suffering outside their focus, and often enough, if they control the media around them, ours too. Too we see the world through and interests of the powers that rule us. If they are blind, so are we. (Like currently the idiot American Republican disbelief in Global Warming, as if reality is a matter of opinion.)
Meet The Fool In Your Life
In all situations where makability tries to achieve the impossible, that’s where chaos turns up. It shows itself in unexpected setbacks and in the shape of the chaotic figure or fool. This figure could redeem us if we wished, but most people hate the chaotic figure, this evil creature that destroys the dream of makability. This figure is the homeless person asking you for money, your partner that doesn’t understand you, your employer who lets you down, the man laughing at you, while you are doing your best. It may even be a global crisis entering your home. You think it’s this idiot or disaster that stands between you and order. But this idiot, this fool is only showing you the facts. If you try to control you create resistance, revolution and misunderstanding. Your solutions, norms and values are not those of the world at large or even for those close by. Control is fiction. It is the chaotic reaction to our actions for control that teach us what we truly force upon ourselves and our surroundings, chaos. Most often, seeking control, the fool is you.
The Madness Of Our ‘Order’
Within organizations interests are often played out with such intensity that all relativity gets lost in the battle. The chasing of money and profits has become so strong, that those who don’t play this game are seen as losers. The result of this is that we serve our economy instead of the other way around. Multinationals keep on bringing us riches by plundering naturals resources, yes, by our own demand for loaded shops. We have become the ‘homo consumentus’ watching the destruction of our natural world on TV and think that’s just the way things are. The order of our world has become a madness we are too often blind too. And the chaos that madness created is the sign, our way isn’t perhaps the best way to do things in this world.
Life Is About Connectedness
Just think about the best moments of your life. Aren’t these the shared moments, moments your were connected to your surroundings, to friends and lovers or even a dream of peace? Being here now is being connected, trying to achieve what is not here is disruptive. So trying to control outcomes in business and relationships creates separations that can be as disrupting on a personal level as dictatorships can be on a national level. No wonder we feel those who commit shootings are disconnected. And strangely, they probably are convinced they help restore order with a gun.
Tao Of Physics
Managers nowadays are more and more looking at the new physics, which on its turn, turns to the old Eastern traditions, like Taoism that offers ‘not doing’ to get everything done. But there is even a big risk in using these principles: it’s, oh paradox, people that use them to create and restore the order they want. Our inner longing for the creation of order, out of fear for the unavoidable, is so strong that we often corrupt these new insights, knowingly or not. Think about it: managers using the Tao of leadership to get there employees running in the ‘right’ direction.
Having A True Intention
The intention with which you act has probably an bigger impact on your actions than the method used or the viewpoint you work from. It would help us if we as a first step could allows us to just undergo the unrest that comes with insights as these.
The Value Of A Fool In Your Life
What our civilization lacks is the fool, the paradox, the happy idiot in the street or office. Whoever meets a happy person with the syndrome of Down often feels a bit embarrassed. Such a person seems to have a freedom outside our conventions we often envy a bit. But this freedom is closer than you think. Become dumber, live in the ‘here and now’, go fish, play with your child and stand for your personal principles, come of it what may. Do not fall for the temptation of thinking you can stay in control.
You’re Free With What You Can Play With
The first step towards this is to learn seeing the chaotic figures and fools straight in the eye. It will help you to keep your own intentions clear and will help you understand that you are as foolish as all others that you don’t understand. In foolishness knowledge and control end, and life begins. The paradox being, this makes you look more like a fool in the eyes of society, and makes you probably less of it. To live is to experience. To experience is to accept, to surrender, to connect and to simply be. Being is often a playful state. If you can play with things as they are, you’re free. You become fluid, adaptive, friendly, connective and creative. The playful mind doesn’t care about order or chaos. It’s at play. When you look at it like that, both order and chaos disappear and only being stays.
A little bit updated and edited column I wrote originally in 2003©