I’ve been running from chaos my entire life. Now, some might disagree after seeing the state of my house at times, but in the grand scheme of things, the big life picture… I like things to be orderly, have a reason, have a time and place,
I like control.
I’ve never embraced the natural rhythm of life, the chaos that life essentially is. I’ve flitted from thing to thing, trying to find my purpose, trying to fit into the box of what I think life should be, how it should go. I’ve been driven by this idea that I need to be innately good at something and then perfect it in order to share whatever it is with anyone, in order to live it. But that’s not living at all, that’s running.
I have this notion that I am not educated enough. I am not strong enough. I am not fast enough, funny enough, pretty enough, witty enough. I am not worthy of life being wonderful just as it is, something is wrong if it’s easy… everything has to be hard because nothing comes natural to me and what does isn’t anything of worth. I haven’t paid my price or studied long enough, or trained hard enough. I am not enough, yet. And I let these fears take the wheel of my life. I let them drive me time and again almost straight into a wall.. but I always come to a screeching halt. I don’t hit the wall. I never smash through the fear or the chaos. I skirt around it and fall back into a cycle of negativity, procrastination, self sabotage.
I listened to an artist speak recently. It was interesting to hear the methodology behind not just her creative process, but the way her process wove into her life and how the two fed off each other to help her create her work. Bekky Beukes, one of my favorite painters, spoke about her relationship with chaos. This is my interpretation of her talk completely.
Bekky spoke of chaos as neither a negative or positive experience, but as something that we are completely in control of determining the outcome, positive or negative – something we should use as a tool, a muse, something that enables us to reach our goal. Just by opening our eyes in the morning, we enter chaos – decisions to be made, events already happening, time moving on while we were asleep. We enter this world already happening around us and we need to make sense of it all. Instead of fighting so hard against the chaos that is inevitable, we need to accept it. Order only exists because of chaos. It’s gift we need to choose to accept in order to harness it, to use it. If we deny it, choose not to accept it, it control us – it swirls around us, ultimately drowning us.
“If chaos is the question, surviving it is the answer.”
Given the alternative, we must choose to accept chaos – to survive it, if we are to accomplish anything. Chaos can be a scary word. I mean when I say it out loud my brain automatically goes to disorder, crazy, small children running everywhere being trapped in the middle of a small classroom. Ok – that last one might only pertain to me and one of my more terrifying experiences in Thailand, but either way, chaos can be thought of as intimating. Bekky created this image of a circle of chaos that she uses when she paints. This cycle takes the scary out of chaos and reminds us that we are in control, we are capable, and we are able to use chaos instead letting it use us. She described these phases that we all know, but maybe haven’t even come to terms with or put words to – I feel awful, but I can’t remember exactly the phrases she used (even tried to look it up). If you ever meet her, ask her – she’s got a killer power point that describes it all perfectly. What I do remember is this – get physical. Pick up your paint brush and paint. Stop thinking and analyzing and basically, figuring out every single way it can go wrong or why you aren’t good enough, and do.
Let me back up here.
We have come to terms with accepting chaos as life. We are given this chaotic gift of life and it is ours to make something of it. We accept this. The cycle has started. The next phase is the “what the f%&@ phase” – the I’m not enough phase, the phase I’ve struggled in for most of my life- the I’m going to run far away from my potential because I’m not worth anything phase. We can linger in this phase like purgatory or we can “armor up” and tell those thoughts to go F themselves. Bekky used this term “armor up” – this is the part where you tell yourself you can do whatever task is in front of you. She described her self consoling, self convincing, as talking to herself like a small child. “To be good at something, you have to be afraid of it.” If it scares you, it’s probably the thing you ought to be doing. Now, I’m not talking about robbing a bank or scary movies, I’m talking about climbing a mountain or going for that job that you dream of, but think you aren’t qualified for, doing an Ironman, striving to go to the Olympics, asking for a raise, changing your health habits. Be honest with yourself, say exactly what you are afraid of or nervous about or feel won’t work, and console yourself like you would a child- answer yourself. Tell yourself it will be okay or that you understand that fear, that it’s normal to have these apprehensions, and then tell yourself you can do whatever is in front of you despite those fears. Or if that doesn’t work for you, be real as f%&@ and tell yourself to get you shit together. I don’t like people yelling at me… so I think being kind to yourself is the best route, but hey – to each their own. After “armoring up”, you’ve got to do. Get going, do the things, the pick your paint brush up and start painting phase. You’ve got to work. Work hard. Channel the chaos that brought you to this place into everything you do that moves you towards your goal. Make a solid plan, a deadline, something concrete that you can reach and reach it.
And when you do, step back and appreciate it. Lose control in it, feel the achievement. Whether it was a small accomplishment like taking time to do yoga for 10 minutes every day or something bigger like getting that promotion you have been working towards, take the time to really feel it. It’s hard to remember sometimes that we don’t get time back. Every day, every moment, every second, is unique and won’t ever be repeated. It’s so very hard to remember that. It’s easy get bogged down by negativity and stress. I’m finding it harder and harder as I get older. I let chaos control my life and miss the little victories, or dismiss achievements. But I am learning – stepping outside myself, learning, growing continuously. I think that’s the key – to consciously make an effort to better yourself by surrounding yourself with new experiences, new point of views, new people. Bekky Beuke’s talk on chaos was able to pull a new perception out of me in 45 minutes. Keep your mind open and let the chaos flow.