Fall in Love With Chaos and Discover Who You Are.


So, there’s some serious shit going down in the world right now, hey? I know this is hitting all of us differently.

If you are doing it tough, I’m sending you pure, straight-up compassion. And maybe some of the words to come (particularly the ones I’ve borrowed from a very wise person) may help, like they have me.

Even though there are sinister forces at play in the world right now, I’m not even going to get into that. Instead, I’m going to get down to some hardcore navel-gazing and share some personal lint-covered insights with you.

First up, I kind of like this new world. Voila! The Universe snaps its fingers, and everything is cancelled. Ahh, it’s like a giant exhale when I didn’t realize I was holding my breath. I thought I loved having a busy life. But whaddaya know? I am loving the quiet life even more. Time for being quiet, listening, thinking, reading, playing with dirt, playing with music, playing with ideas. And a helluvalotta time for navel-gazing.

It’s not the global pandemic, potential loss of individual freedoms or imminent economic collapse that’s keeping me up at night, it’s personal stuff.

Sometimes little things are bigger than big things.

The drama I’m finding most challenging right now is personal stuff. I’m not going to go into specifics, because in a way it’s irrelevant. It’s the same old stuff that seems always to be cycling — heart stuff, self-belief stuff, the uncomfortableness of sitting in uncomfortable feelings, resisting the urge to escape into distraction and comfort.

It is the questionable joy of sitting in the shit for a while.

As a result, it was time for me to give Pema Chödrön’s perennially essential, When Things Fall Apart, a re-read. 

I’m already on my second read through. I re-read it once, then turned it over and started again.

The slow brain movement.

I have a slow brain and I’m a slow reader. I used to see this as a negative thing. I thought it must mean I’m a bit stupid. In school, when I’d have to read a book with a classmate, I’d always say I was ready for a page-turn much earlier than I actually was, because I felt embarrassed about being a slow reader.

I still wish I could move a bit quicker through information so that I could consume more and learn more quickly, but it is what it is, and now I like to think of it like the slow food movement — taking time, allowing flavors to marinate, combine, infuse and develop — but instead it’s the wisdom in the words that develops.

So anyway, there I was, part way through the second read through, and I read the words, “Chaos should be regarded as very good news.”

Whoa, what? No, just no!

Chaos is messy and uncomfortable. Chaos is destructive and deconstructive.

I mean, isn’t chaos to be avoided? Aren’t we supposed to have everything handled, ordered, planned, controlled? 

Can you hear the Universe laughing? 

If one essential piece of wisdom can be foraged from this bizarre time in human history, it is that No, we most certainly fucking don’t control everything, or maybe anything.

Isn’t that cold comfort?

That would mean we are literally randomly spinning through time and space with no control, no influence, no ability to navigate. 

Relax, nothing is under control.

Another thing to know about me is that I’m really hard to double-bounce on a trampoline.

It’s because I’m a recovering control freak. I anticipate the bounce and I resist. I’ve been aware of this since I was a kid. I wanted the exhilaration of being bounced high, like I could do to my sisters, but I just couldn’t seem to relax enough to let the momentum take me.

I think life is a bit like that.

If we feel like it is our job to control and steer life, then it feels hard, frustrating and frequently disappointing. But if we can surrender and relax into the unpredictable chaos of it all, we can flow with it. We can come out of the duality of good and bad, right and wrong, and just observe, experience without judgment, and literally go with the flow of the crazy river of life.

That feels a lot better, doesn’t it?

So no, we can’t control the river, we can’t control what’s happening in the world or our lives now, or yesterday or tomorrow, but we can choose not to be thrown around by it. We can relax and allow ourselves to be double-bounced high into the sky. We can enjoy the feeling of exhilaration moment to moment.

We can enjoy the pain, we can enjoy the not knowing, we can enjoy the mystery and the total lack of control.

And in the midst of it all, there is one thing we can control: that place of stillness which is not affected by the outside swirls.

And when things happen to us on a personal level — disappointment, humiliation, heartbreak, feelings of failure, uncertainty — we can just enjoy the chaos and the drama.

No drama when we’re dead.

A friend once told me about a night he was riding his bike through a cemetery on a full moon night (no werewolves, thankfully). He looked around at all the tombstones, and imagined the still, lifeless corpses in the coffins buried all round him. And he felt a gratefulness for the drama of life. For all of it — the good, the bad and the ugly.

So love the drama, it means you’re alive. Love the chaos, it means you have adventure, mystery, exhilaration and wisdom ahead.

And as Pema says, “Every ending is a new beginning.” 

Part of relaxing and surrendering into the chaos of life is the soulful acknowledgement of impermanence.

Everyone and everything we love is going to die.

Nothing lasts, everything is fleeting, transient, ever changeable. 

Simple to write, not so simple to live by.

Honestly, I hate change. It gives me the total shits. One of my most used lines is, “What’s the plan?” Yep, I’m a planner, and I really don’t like it when plans change. I even don’t like it when I have to change my own plans. I guess it’s another part of my slow brain. I can literally feel the cogs slowly creaking, reluctantly re-calibrating anytime plans change.

I’m slowly, slowly getting better at this, but it sure as hell doesn’t come naturally. 

And I’m also pretty big on attachment and nostalgia.  

So impermanence is very bad news in my books. Can’t things just stay the same? What do you mean everyone I love is going to die? What do you mean I can’t have that good feeling forever? Can’t I just have the highs without the lows? And can’t everything please just stay the same? 

What do you mean people are going to let me down, and I’m going to disappoint people? What do you mean my heart is going to be broken, and I’m going to break hearts? 

Yep, that’s right. Everything you love is going to pass through your fingers, and there’s not one thing you can do about it. 

We can’t hold on to anything, and everything is always changing. And once again we can relax, surrender and let it all happen. We can treasure each moment, then let it go and be grateful for the constant moment-to-moment adventure of life and living. 

No, this is not easy. It’s really fucking hard. It’s heartbreaking at times. It’s sometimes so uncomfortable that getting cozy with a corpse in one of the coffins seems pretty damn appealing. But it’s in these times that we get to fall in love with chaos, and discover who we are, what life is really all about, and what actually matters.


Leonie Orton is a blogger who writes intimate stories about life. She is also a freelance copywriter and editor for business, academia and manuscript development. She has a background in corporate marketing communication and a lifelong love of words. When she’s not playing with words, she’s barefoot in the garden with her hands in the soil, raising two spirited sons and occasionally breaking teacups for therapy. You can get in touch with her via her website and Facebook, or sign up to her very sporadic blog.


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