We are told from very young ages to avoid chaos at all costs. Chaos is seen as an extremely negative aspect of life. It is viewed as something that causes nothing but death and destruction or, at the very least, radical and painful disruption. I have a different view of chaos. I thought I might share that view with you, the reader, in hopes that perhaps it can make some sense of things for you as you walk through your own personal version of chaos, which everyone inevitably will at some point in his or her life.
Whether or not you want it, and whether or not you have prepared for it, chaos does perform a functional task for everyone who experiences it. What it does, essentially, is liberate us from the familiar, the comfortable, the narrow confines that have kept us safe, yet bound and imprisoned. The more we fight against chaos and all of its radical disruption, the more painful the experience turns out to be. When we “go with the flow” when encountering that chaotic moment, we allow ourselves to coast with it and blend the experience into the rest of our life’s experiences. The less we struggle, the easier it becomes to make the necessary changes in our lives.
We have all had experiences that have rocked us to the core. But we have a choice in how we walk through that. We can become bitter and angry people who wreak havoc on everyone around us who doesn’t fulfil our victim mentality, or we can allow the experience to awaken us even more. I have found, through the many, MANY chaotic experiences in my life, that if I just allow myself to acknowledge that this is happening and do my best to stay in the moment and come at it from a place of compassion, the awakening process becomes less harsh, and can actually have moments of being downright beautiful.
I know that this sounds weird. I know it sounds unbelievable. But it is true. To demonstrate this, I will share an example that, hopefully, will make sense. The one that I will share involves the death of one of my sisters. She was my oldest sibling and, honestly, she was the one I was closest to amongst all of my family. She lived a hard life, having been married for years to someone who struggled with alcohol and was physically and mentally abusive to her. When she finally left she had to also leave her children with him because of how the laws worked way back then. But it was either that or end up in the morgue. She chose to live. There have been many ripples that have come from that decision. Most of them have been viewed by many as negative. But I have always been proud of her for her strength to save her life and make sure that, even if she did not see her children every single day, her children would, nonetheless, have a mother who loved them and was actually ALIVE. I think that, among all of my siblings, I was possibly the only one who “got” that. As I was growing up (she was 18 years older than myself) she became one of my best friends. I would actually hang out with her after school when I was in high school. When I got old enough to go to a bar we would go out dancing together. I watched as she finally fell in love again, this time to a man who treated her very well. Years after her death, he is still someone that I consider to be family, even after he has remarried. Others in my family do not, necessarily, feel the same way. But I do.
She had four children, the oldest was only 11 months younger than me. I am still close with my nephew, who is 6 years younger than myself. In many ways, he lived a hard life as well. The turmoil in his family is, I am sure, part of what motivated him to get in with the wrong crowd on many an occasion. For me, being the youngest of my family of origin, he was more like having a younger brother than a nephew. And even though we lost touch for a few years, I never judged him for anything that he did or for anything that he experienced because I could see through all of that to the core of who he really is. After his mother died we became closer still as we supported each other through the grief. And although we live in different areas of the country now, we are still there for each other, so much so that he travelled through seven hours of intense fog to get to me when my wife passed away and her funeral was set to happen. That was a very slow, very long and very dangerous journey for him, but he was not going to not be there for me. This is the beautiful part of the chaos that ripples forth. Two deaths and the result is a deeper bond between myself and my nephew, whom I love to the end of the earth.
I could go on with many other examples, but that would be self-indulgent. So I will move on to say that, no matter what kind of storm it is that erupts in your life, once that storm passes you can actually feel more awake, more open, and, in fact, more free than you have ever felt before the storm occurred. The only reason that we fear chaos is because we cannot control it. As humans we think that in order to “have our stuff together” we have to be totally in control of ourselves and everything around us.
I have a stark truth to share here. Chaos is the volatile raw material that blows up in our faces and forces our personal transformations. Without it, we would not have that face slapping moment of clarity. We would not have the drive to survive. We would not have those moments of complete understanding that we now MUST change something in our lives. Death is the ultimate chaos. One moment someone is with you and the next they are gone. We go through our roller coaster rides of emotions and revelations and eventually come out on the other end of things with the realisation that life is just too short to be “fucking around” with something, or even someone, we don’t enjoy or something that does not serve us or lead us to our personal fulfilment. If it does not fee our soul, it is just not worth our time. We become more focused than we have ever before been on what we actually WANT in our lives, what we NEED in our lives and what and whom we LOVE in our lives. We then have the energy it takes to make all those things happen and to sustain them once they do.
Whenever I have Chaos come knocking on my door, I know that this is not going to be an easy journey. But there is always a time, sometimes years later, when I express gratitude for that experience, because it forced me to grow. Yes, I would have grown anyway. But it would have taken much longer because I, like most people, am a bit lazy when it comes to personal development. If it can wait till tomorrow, then I am going to simply enjoy today. But believe me, my friends, tomorrow DOES come. And the storm it brings can be vicious and harsh beyond belief. There is no way to prepare. We simply have to hold onto our hats and do our best to go with the flow. And in so doing we have to remember to have compassion for ourselves as we go through it, and to have compassion for others who are going through it alongside us. We need not take on their pain or anguish. We also need not compare our anguish to that of others also experiencing the chaos. We simply need to acknowledge that it is there and that they are going to get through it. We all are. And when that storm passes, we do need to look back and see the gifts, the medicine of transformation, the flowers that are still blooming, the sunrises and sunsets that can still be enjoyed. And we need to embrace those things with love and light and allow ourselves to acknowledge that we HAVE gotten through the storm. Once that happens, we can legitimately celebrate!