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Beautiful, Serendipitous, and Unmanaged Chaos

January 2, 2008

How can I even begin to explain my penchant for chaos? Those closest to me would never describe me as disorderly. I’ve never been one to wallow in a mess, and I really like to keep my car/truck and desk clean, but I have found this serendipitous beauty in what most would describe as chaos. Even when my desk is cluttered, I know where everything is. It’s when the clutter begins to overwhelm that I realize I’m not managing the traffic of inflow and outflow very well.

I think it stems from not being a “detail person.” I can skim through large volumes of information and glean what I need and want. (Yes, Mick was right, “you can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need”) According to Gladwell in The Tipping Point, I’m an information maven.

It is the big picture that really grabs my attention – and I’m talking about the really big picture. And in that big picture I see patterns. I don’t know how (or why?), I just do. Whether it be a crowd of people, a flock of birds (or seagulls, I don’t care ), or a big pile of trash in Vernonia after the recent floods.
I remember setting up and designing a stage with only what we found in the back room. It made a great backdrop for our presentations. I remember after my divorce, decorating my apartment with what I found at the local Goodwill or could find for under $5 bucks at Fred Meyer. Creating something out of nothing is awesome.
That’s where I see the beauty of Chaos. I’ve not explained it well here, but suffice it to say that there is great potential in the various degrees of connection we all share; whether socially, environmentally, intellectually, spiritually, physically, geographically, or politically, the web of layers is infinite and at some level we are part of a much larger story than our finite minds could ever individually conceive.
Postscript: In a life I lived a few years ago, I had the unique opportunity to manage emergencies and disasters. Some calls to 911 were easily handled and were more urgent than emergent. However, my training prepared me to manage mass casualty incidents; that is to assume that one can actually manage that level of chaos. In reality we were trained to manage our response to those incidents.
Some try to manage the chaos they find in life. Others simply learn to manage their response(s) to that chaos. That’s where I’ve learned to filter the input and only gather the information that I want or need – the rest passes under the bridge. As Pete Townsend sang, “the sea refuses no river.”

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