In the Chinese culture, there is a philosophy known as dao, which means “way” or “path”. No doubt you have seen the symbol that represents dao, the yin and yang.
The yin and yang are the opposite sides of the same coin so to speak. On the left side, in the white, is Chaos. On the right, in black, is Order. Our dichotomous thinking would have us believe that one of these is good (Order) while the other is bad (Chaos).
But there is no “good” or “bad” with Order and Chaos. They just are and it is how we use them in our life to bring balance and harmony to our existence. Indeed, it is how we bring meaning to our life.
Let’s talk about “bad” Chaos for a second. Obviously, anyone who is experiencing chaos in their life will find things erratic, uncertain, and stressful. Being in a chaotic situation can cause anxiety, depression, and fear. When left to its own devices, chaos can wreak all manner of havoc in your life.
But when chaos is harnessed properly with Order, it can be the source of imagination, hope, and potential. In fact, one of the original definitions of the word chaos is “…gap or chasm…” Said another way, it can be described as the gap between where you are currently and the potential of who you could become.
So, chaos, in a sense, represents potential. What is that potential? Well, it is different for everyone, but it is the highest being of Self that you can pursue. What does that mean to you? Only you will know. I would argue that finding out and then living it is the key to finding meaning in your life.
Ok, what happens to Chaos when we apply Order? Maybe we can think of it as fire. When left uncontrolled it can rage and burn everything in its path. Has life ever felt that way to you? I know it has to me. When we recognize that and begin to add some structure and order to our life, we can contain that chaos and use it - to stay with the fire analogy - to warm ourselves or cook with it. It becomes useful in helping us live a more peaceful and meaning life.
But, Order isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Too much Order and you breed tyranny. Your “rules” and structure become too oppressive and constricting. It eliminates chaos, but at what cost? Dreams and hope are crushed under the heel of Order. You no longer imagine, you no longer see possibility, you no longer strive to something transcendent. You become bored with Life. Order becomes your Tyrant.
Balance. The yin and the yang. That’s what we’re after here. Chaos is not your enemy. Harnessed properly and used to design a vision of a potential life it can be a powerful force of change and fulfillment.
Life can be hard, man. It can be suffering and pain and chaos. But it can also be beautiful and joyful and exciting. We need that balance of having one foot in and one foot out of security and danger. It is by walking that fine line between Order and Chaos that we find meaning.
Chaos is not your enemy. It is your key to living the life you were meant to live.