In Praise of Chaos & Order

Many kinds of things come in polarities: cold/hot, young/old, male/female, feeling/thinking, believing/knowing, extrovert/introvert, and many others. Some of these things are either/or and some of them form a spectrum from one extreme to the other. Chaos and order form such a spectrum. From the white-hot chaos of the beginning of the universe, wherein all was potential, to the ultimate order of the heat death of the universe (assuming that either ever did or ever will happen), we see a spectrum.

I was talking with Nancy the Virgo the other day, and it became evident that her idea of a reasonable amount of order is much more orderly than mine. Mine looks like chaos to her. We are comfortable at different places on the spectrum. Then I was talking with Michael the Aries, saying that I am rather like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoon strip, except that, instead of attracting dirt like Pigpen, I attract chaos. I can walk by a stack of papers two feet away and they slither down behind the desk. Michael was very sympathetic – he, too, is in a love-hate relationship with chaos.

When the chaos becomes too bad, I become dysfunctional. But when things become too orderly (true, this doesn’t happen often) or when I am in someone else’s super-orderly (by my standards) environment, I feel paralyzed and don’t know what to do until I’ve untidied things a bit. And if I can’t untidy them, I wander around picking things up and putting them down again, doing nothing useful. There has to be a little bit of chaos, maybe quite a large bit, in order for my mind and spirit to move fluidly, creatively, and to find new juxtapositions in old information, new aspects or ways of seeing the pattern. For me, and from what I hear, for many others a certain amount of chaos is an essential ingredient in the creative process.

Yet other people like to have things orderly, and to go on making them even more orderly. They like static patterns, in which there are Answers. Most of us, even we lovers of moderate chaos, are desperate for Answers. Knowing myself, I suspect that if an all-knowing God gave me Answers, I’d probably just argue about them. And I know a lot of other people who would probably do the same.

I suspect that many people were terribly relieved when scientists came up with the Chaos Theory, which, as I understand it, is that there is order in all things but it is much too complex and multidimensional for us ever to understand. This is why your blowing out of your birthday cake candles can be the ultimate prime cause of a storm months or years later in Argentina, which in turn might be in the direct line of causation for the eventual collapse of the (at present nonexistent) federal government of South America. And severe flooding in Alaska.

If things are this complicated, it is hardly surprising that we make mistakes and misjudgments. And we do all make mistakes, which we can regard as a part of our growth process. If we cannot accept this view, we miss an opportunity for creative spiritual growth. We get stuck in a sort of miniature entropic heat-death of our own, wherein we become rigid and deny free-flowing change. Instead of saying, ‘Hot damn!* I wonder where this is taking me?’ we say, ‘Why me, God? Why me?’ We are again demanding Answers – which we would almost surely argue with if we got them.

I suspect that, even when we evolve to several stages higher on the evolutionary scale than humans are, we’ll still make mistakes. This raises an interesting question: does even God/dess (the all-Oneness-that-Is) make mistakes? Or does It just approve of chaos? Because it certainly seems that every once in a while that things just don’t make sense. Is this because God/dessĀ  (in the ultimate sense) has goofed or because It has simply stirred in a little more chaos so that extraordinary things, possibly even miracles can happen?

At just this moment in time, the balance in my home feels absolutely perfect for me. Clearly it isn’t so for the cats and they are working for more chaos. I can handle that. šŸ˜‰ Do you know your own Right Balance?Ā  PerhapsĀ  that should be #9 in the Eight-fold Path…

* I know ‘hot damn’ is a very old-fashioned expression, but it was the only one I could think of that actually seemed appropriate.