Monday, August 18, 2008

Disorderly Conduct

I made it. I finally got north for two full weeks of fishing. After months of being a caretaker, taking time away from Mom was difficult. It seems I fell into a bit of a trap, being drawn to create order in the midst of the seeming chaos of my mother's illness. So I cleaned, sorted, mowed, planted, folded, dusted, rearranged, tossed, and organized. The list is long. But even in the middle of my orderly behavior, I recognized my actions were not really about creating order. They were more about trying to be in control.

Just like the ease with which summer gives way to fall, when I take a minute to breathe and observe, I can see that order is already inherent in any chaos. There is nothing for me to do. If I'm willing to relinquish control, I can always see the present order within the mess before me. That order is, at its heart, natural and expansive. The control I was seeking is contrived and limiting.

So, thanks to a complicated (dare I say “chaotic”) system that involved train conductors, a shortwave radio, a fly-in fishing camp to our south, and a bush plane pilot, I was finally able to get away and muck about in chaos, knowing the order was there when I needed it. Some days I caught too many fish, some days I didn't fish at all. Some days I slept in and stayed up late, other days I was up before the sun and in bed before the stars. Some days I ate every hour, on the hour. Other days I ate only one meal. Some days I had milk and cookies for a bedtime snack, other days it was good bourbon and a cigarette. I can't say I felt more in control after all my disorderly conduct. But I can say that I have a better, more trusting, relationship with chaos. And that gives me peace.

“Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.” ~Tom Barrett

“Chaos is a friend of mine.” ~Bob Dylan

“Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.” ~Henry Miller

“Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.” ~George Santayana