There is often an essential mess before a spectacular success. How often are we told that this is part of success? Not often. I think for many of us, if we have goals or intentions in life, perhaps we are starting a new business, publishing our first book, or moving house, we know that change is difficult, but we never seem to remember how essential the muddle and mess is that eventually leads to that project or change taking place in our lives.
In the ancient Chinese philosophy the I-CHING or Book of Changes, one of the hexagrams is actually called Chaos. It is hexagram 64, sometimes viewed as before completion. The wisdom shared states:
In Before Completion disorder or a lack of security and ease can become quite pronounced, but given time, energy will dissipate and uncertainties will gel into a clear picture of the way forward. We can say anything that can go wrong will go wrong but just as easily say that anything that can go right will go right. The Book of Changes is always teaching us that what we experience is a matter of perspective. The rules of the game that we can measure are what is observable in nature. Since disorder and uncertainty are its thrust into a purposeful future – trust that all is unfolding perfectly and the unexpected may still be on the horizon. Don’t give up just yet.Kari Hohne
“..molecules moving inside of a box randomly are more dynamic than molecules locked in perfect order. Disorder increases energy and innovation”.Kari Hohne
How do we manage the experience of chaos and the essential mess?
There is a saying that if the path you are walking down is easy it’s not your true path. By nature, life is not meant to be smooth and easy all of the time, how can it be? If there were no storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods, rain…nature would not be what it is. We need the uproar and chaos of the unknown, the uncertain and the road less travelled to bring us the new growth, the new landscapes as human beings.
Summer turns to autumn, autumn turns to winter. This is all part of life and change. We need this, as painful and disturbing as it can feel.
During chaos or the mess in our lives, we have two choices, we can drown in the chaos, allowing it to throw us completely off course and retreat into our safe caves of the known or we can dive right in, let the boat capsize knowing that we have a life raft that will get us to safety. Trusting that the ‘not knowing’, the confusion, the state of bedlam often precedes the grace, the calm, the ‘new’ being born.
In my life right now, I am in the chaos phase. There is a definite feeling of essential mess taking place. Nothing makes sense, nothing seems to be working and nothing seems to be easy or flowing right. I feel perpetually confused. I am crying more, but also laughing at the absurdity of it all. My very nature is in bedlam and this is important.
I am to stay the course I’m on or otherwise I could retreat into my old patterns and take the easy road, the road already travelled.
But instead, I choose to let go, to let disorder be and let it naturally flow back into order, in its own time.
What Does Being In The Chaos Feel Like?
This is how my fall into chaos feels right now:
- Confusion – I feel confused a lot of the time, wondering if I am on the right path.
- Doubt – I feel that perhaps I got it all wrong and that what I am doing is pointless
- Exhaustion – I am feeling more tired than normal, because no matter what I do, it doesn’t seem fluid or easy, obstacles seem to be in abundance
- Out of Control – I have no sense of being in control
- Irritated – I feel more irritated by outer events and people; I feel less tolerant
- Distracted – Instead of resting I keep distracting myself
- Yearning for quiet – I find people and the world over-stimulating
- Desire to run away – I often have thoughts of going to a desert island and disappearing
- Hopelessness – fearing that nothing will ever change and life will be like this forever
How We Approach The Chaos Determines Our Success
At time likes this we can approach the experience by seeing it as simply part of the journey instead of judging the experiences or ourselves as failing at what we are trying to do, but knowing that it will pass. It always does.
Approaching the mess in a way that enables transformation as opposed to destruction for the sake of destruction is definitely a learning curve. Instead of seeing the experience as hopeless perhaps we can look at it with a desire to understand that:
‘order is pre-arranging itself out of chaos’Kari Hohne
So chaos and the essential mess of life is a pre-requisite for success or a better way to live.
Everything is working itself out whether we see it that way or not. It simply is and always will.
From the chaos comes renewal.
How are you managing the chaos in your life right now?