The iridescent blue clocklight says its 3:30 am and the sickly orange glow casting shutter slats on the bedroom wall agrees. But for the tick and whir of the fans, and the slow deep breathing of my wife, the room is silent. I get up. I despise waking up at this time of the morning, but once the trauma of tearing myself out of bed is done, I like being awake. This is probably because the little hours of the morning are the hours when the rest of humanity, which has a way of getting on my nerves, is out of the picture. Mornings are a time for peace, for reflection, for excavating meaning from the tatters and orphans of thoughts still swimming in the half dreaming brain.
The full blast sink sounds obscene at 3:30 in the morning but the shock of cold water to the face is a necessary as the coffee I fix. Coffee is better when you spend the 10 minutes or so it takes to brew enjoying the growing smell accompanied by the lethargic sputter and drip of water, a slow process of awakening in itself. But plenty of odes have been written to the sounds, smells and tastes of coffee. Plenty of odes have been written about sleep, too. And mornings, as well as solitude. This is an ode to the exact opposite of everything I want and see and feel at this dark hour of the morning. This is an ode to chaos.
We seek to impose too much order in the world, we seek reason where there is none. While the extraordinary machinations of the universe may follow a limited, orderly set of simple (as yet undiscovered) rules, these rules manifest themselves in pure emergent unpredictability. It is beyond beautiful really. Embrace that chaos, it isn’t as frightening as it seems. Sure its nice to know when the next meal is coming and where you’ll lay your head down at night, but beyond these and a few other simple needs, there isn’t a whole lot that being human actively requires. Yet we create so much necessity for predictability and order every day from our home life to our jobs to our politics. It provides the security and level emotional topography that society needs to function, at least as it is currently manifested.
But what if things were different? What if instead of repeating the same safe situations we actively sought to create new and unpredictable permutations of our every day lives? This can be as deeply ingrained as never holding the same job for long or as superficial as driving a different way every day to work. Our brains work best when exposed to new stimuli, lets stimulate our brains with chaos. The more stimulation, the greater the sample size of data about the possibilities in the world around us, the greater our understand and integration with that world. We can live bigger, more meaningful lives by being in tune with the world than by constantly fighting it to fit into our preconceptions.
It seems one of the problems many people face these days are caused by the worlds they create around themselves. Wrongly assuming that unpredictability is the problem, they define compartments in life that reinforce inflexible behaviors rather than mitigating them. Chaos is a part of existence, it is an unavoidable consequence of living in a huge miraculous system. We should learn to reframe our ideas about unpredictability and chaos away from being undesirable obstacles and toward being unexpected opportunities. Order may be easier to cope with, but disorder often has better than ordinary results. So open your life, at least a little bit, to the random, to the unknown. It can be as easy as paying attention to the world happening around you while walking down the street or as hard as launching yourself into space: something will happen along the way so that by the time you get home you won’t see anything the same.