Inevitability: Unpacking the Definition of Chaos

Every night I neatly lay out my outfit for the next day. The clothes aren’t always folded; my room isn’t always clean, but neither of these are what matters. Instead, what’s important is that I wake up the next morning with a soothing sense of security. I can’t predict what obstacles the day will bring nor can I control which ones are thrown at me. Despite this, I find tranquility in the simple measures executed in order to prevent any unruliness. Doing so allows me to decrease the likelihood I’ll experience disorder the next morning when I can’t find “anything” to wear. My weekday mornings entail a hundred tasks that need to get done and, of course, a time limit. The simple process of planning ahead relieves me of stress, as I work to escape any possible chaos.

Routines such as these reflect how we consider disorder and confusion to be the worst possible outcome; it’s why we have tech week for dance performances and dress rehearsals for weddings. We actively aim to avoid chaos, and, as someone who highly values order, I understand the necessity for these measures to be taken. That being said, there must lie some inevitability because things repeatedly do not turn out as planned. Too often do I take a wrong turn and end up walking in twenty minutes late; I’ve misread the train schedule countless times, watching in disbelief as I see it pass by; I’ve left my biology notes at home, forced to take the test without studying. Whatever it is, these mishaps occur, despite the fact that I didn’t plan for them.

The word “chaos” was defined as “the natural or preferred environment of a person or thing” according to The Oxford English Dictionary. Although this definition is now obsolete (in use from 1621-1862), it does provide further insight about the nature of chaos. The preferred environment, the direction things naturally tilt toward, leads me to believe that chaos is the way the universe naturally leans. Thus, some chaos in my life must be inevitable, although I actively work to counteract the process. I see this in times when I get busy, preoccupied with whatever life throws at me, that other elements in my life ordinarily become untidy. Clothing is left on the ground, dishes sit in the sink, papers lay in stacks without an end in sight. Whatever it is—a room, kitchen, office, or car—these environments become messy because I am not actively cleaning them up. In other words, it seems to me that I’m neglecting to counteract the natural decline into a state of chaos.

Due to that, chaos must be a natural—and inescapable—part of life. Although I keep an oversized, color-coated desk calendar, have countless Post-It notes with written “to-do” items, and track meticulously every assignment in my travel-sized planner, I still encounter disorder and even turmoil. I scramble to complete an American history project the night before; I spill hot coffee all over my new white coat; I forget that I’m scheduled to work in, oh, fifteen minutes. Hence maybe I should be changing the way I approach chaos and view its role in my life, understanding how to live with it, instead of tirelessly trying to avoid it.

This doesn’t mean I should throw out my calendars or party the night before an academic exam. It does, however, indicate that I should change the mindset I have when I leave my laptop and notebook at home, forced to double back in order to grab them. It’s easy to let this bring me down, to throw out the last crumbs of positive mentality. However, this event didn’t occur because the world aimed to target me specifically; instead, it was a mishap because chaos is—and always will be—abundant in the world. While, yes, I can obsess over the disorder, the unruliness, and all the events I didn’t anticipate, I could also make peace with the inevitability of chaos. I may be better off doing just that.

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4:02PM on January 16, 2018
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In the process of painting canvases
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Mid-laugh in December

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