Chaos is not disorder. Chaos is order so precise and sensitive that the slightest misstep at the start sends us far from where we intended to be.
Water is, as it tumbles over rocks and flows between our fingers, a creature of chaos. And so is life.
We drift along, pulled between rapids and brief moments of pause, seconds of tranquility that split time into austere fractions that enclose us and confine us. Solutions (and the problems they supposedly solve) seem suddenly clear, and then the water draws us away, and once more we are left without recourse and direction.
It’s about that time of year when suddenly I disappear.
No, I’m not a practicing magician, but I am still a college student, and with the summer days winding away, within a week I’ll be back on campus, back in classes, trying to figure out how they expect us students to do what students are meant to do.
And typically it means my blogging starts to suffer. But I’m hoping, even if there might be some disruption next week, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to keep up my twice-weekly posting on Mondays and Thursdays here, and on Tuesdays and Fridays on Silent Soliloquy.
I have a number of unpublished posts that I think will help me through this transition, but transitions of any sort tend to messy and unruly, and until I‘m in the midst of the forthcoming chaos, I probably won’t realize how much a whirlwind it’s going to be.
So all my blogging friends, all my readers, riddle me this: How do you keep up with what you love (perhaps blogging, perhaps not) when the going gets tough? What’s your method, what’s your madness? Because this time, when it gets tough, I don’t want to get going.
I was out with friends watching Interstellar the other night. Afterwards we were standing around, trying to figure out the movie, some of us closer to understanding than others. I was one of these guys, trying to explain multiple dimensions to people who have never had to think outside three (and even had a hard time understanding those).
But I tried to take it further, make it clearer: dimension is not only a spatial measurement. We think of space in three dimensions: we can move forward/backward, left/right, and up/down–three measures, three dimensions. So what, they asked, is four dimensional?
It may seem like this will be a post about science, but hold on. Shortly, it won’t be.
It’s hard to believe this year was, in fact, no longer than last year–it just felt that way. The journey I’ve taken from January 1, 2013, to today has been among the most adventurous I’ve ever had–blessed with confusion and clarity, strewn across two continents, and featuring my life-long highest and lowest points, it’s certainly been anything but expected.
And yet I’ve survived and stand here today a changed man. I’ve learned a lot along the way–a lot more than algebra and analysis, conservation and creative writing, policies and politics–things that fill me with more wisdom than Zelda with her Triforce piece (I’ve been playing again lately), and as my last act of 2013, I want to share these lessons with you.
I like to think all things begin with chaos. It is order of the most profound nature. Order so precise, the slightest variation at the start can lead to endings worlds apart. I like to think, the further from this primordial chaos we become, the more distilled is the order around us. We begin to detect patterns. We begin to feel the rhythms of the world, the rise and fall of our breathing, the beating of our hearts. We gain the order upon which we can build our lives, upon which we can foster freedom for ourselves, moving forward toward the future.
Other times we get lost in that chaos. We lose ourselves.
This is not a story about that. Instead it’s a story about much more.
I feel frustrated and slightly overwhelmed. Tomorrow I return to Raleigh to start my second semester, and in all honesty, I’m not sure if I’m more anxious or excited. I haven’t accomplished all the goals I wanted to make before going back to campus, but those I haven’t reached I’ve planned to do elsewise. And although today is Saturday and there are only four more lessons in the third book of the Pirkei Avot, I just haven’t felt in sound mind to write about that today (and when I read what it said, I felt it even less).
I need focus. But focus is hard to find in a world full of Facebook.
In two days the month will change from October to November when the clock strikes midnight and National Novel Writing Month will begin–and it’ll also be time for me to re-evaluate my goals for another month. November is oft a time of intense chaos, and not just because of NaNoWriMo, so I figured I’d cheat fate and make this early as opposed to late.
I’ll begin at square one: My goals for this month.
Like the elements of an unintended chemical reaction, things lately have been building toward an inevitable explosion–or worse, an irreversible meltdown. Between classes, uncertainties, and life changes, “chaos” even seems a kind descriptor of recent events.
Then, between today and yesterday, but mostly today, things were pulled back into perspective and I’ve had the power–the courage perhaps–to do what I haven’t in a long while: Write.
Fate is such a subtle seamstress. Even when my life is unraveling down to its smallest fibers, right around the corner the loom is suddenly strung once more and everything is pulling itself back together again. In a matter of days, I had died. In a matter of minutes, hours, I had been brought back to life. I had lost both sleep and sanity last month–both responsibility and intention had vanished with the moderation of my mind. And now, now all of that has been brought back to me. Now all of that has left me overflowing with such joy I’m on the brink of tears in any given moment, simply overwhelmed with this magnificent and beautiful intensity.
Taking a look at my goals for March is depressing. It starts off on the left-hand side remarkably green, but as the weeks progress, one by one green dots turn to orange–failure. Lack of achievement. Missed accomplishment.
I could easily give up. I could easily say, like with many New Year Resolutions, I’ve missed my mark. I have loosed my arrows and now my quiver is empty. I have nothing left to give. I shall break my bow and bow down to the powers that be, the societies and stigmas that have kept me from the success I had dreamed of months ago.
But I refuse to do so. I refuse to succumb to the fates that weave reality. I refuse to do it. I did not make resolutions to be broken–I made goals to be kept. My long-term goals have not changed, not changed one bit; only my short-term goals, those steps I am taking to get there, have transformed into something new, into a path with greater clarity. Every moment is a moment to learn from–and when good things come into your life, time seems to make itself. I have had my hand at failure. I will not lie and say I have only found success in my life. But to hide my failures is unbecoming; by embracing them, I can learn from them and grow into something–someone–greater.