Know Thyself: Stability or Chaos?
Waaaay back when, South Park –which I loved before its undercurrent of icky rich-white-kid politics became more of a riptide– aired an episode featuring then-new-and-popular band Korn. ‘Twas a Halloween episode done in the style of Scooby Doo, and it was quite satisfyingly funny if I remember correctly. At one point during this train-wreck of pop culture, the group (composed of SP Kids and Band) decides to “split up”. Twisting the homage to Scooby, though, one of the band members suggests something along the lines of, “I know! Everyone who feels threatened by change get in one group, and everyone who sees change as a positive force in their lives get in another group.” To complete the joke, everyone joins one group or the other without fuss, leaving two equal-sized groups, and someone comments, “Wow, that was easy.”
Is it easy for you?
In reality, both stability and chaos are truths: Everything is changing all the time; but many things change so much slower than we do that, to them, we ourselves would seem to change and disappear in a blink. On top of that, our own point of reference into the world remains fixed (I still feel like the same consicousness I was ten years ago, even though I’m vastly different physically and psychologically).
But how we perceive the world, by and large, is up to us (and our programming, howevermuch control we have over it). Ignoring the fact that, to everybody, the world must sometimes seem chaotic and sometimes stable, to the extent that you can choose which way your life feels, what do you prefer?
For me, it’s no contest, but this is one of those things that, were I writing myself as a character in a story (or “rolling myself” in a tabletop RPG), it would be completely obvious; but because I have to be myself–and darnit, it’s confusing in here!–of course it’s taken thirty years to come around to the real “oh yeah, duh” of it.
But all the signs were there: The rabid Discordianism; the obsession with chaos mathematics and far-flung theoretical physics; the blood-feud with boredom; the claustrophobia; the thousand and one hobbies; even the give-it-to-me-straight-even-if-it-kills-me approach [to religion, then magick, then psychology, then philosophy, then Zen].
But in spite of all the duh-inducing-ness, it still took a re-visit to the “Uberman state of mind”, this week embodied in a rather insane diet that has me parsing out how much cream I can put in my coffee, to make me realize that hey, I’m a LOT happier when I feel the metaphorical wind in my sails. I have to feel like I’m growing, making progress, any progress, or I start to feel trapped. (In fact, an ugly side of my personality also makes sense here: Feeling stagnant leads to feeling trapped leads to suicide-ideation; anything for a way out.)
I would, in fact, prefer a crazy storm-at-sea wind to a stall, any day. I suppose I ought to be grateful that I’ve avoided the common chaosopher traps of either a) manufacturing drama & crises or b) avoiding good things, like children and stable relationships, because they feel too restrictive. I’ve certainly felt the urge to do both, but thankfully my (sometimes overenthusiastic) dedication to truth and logic keeps me away from going too far in either direction. (The recent influence of Zen has probably guaranteed that I’ll stay away from them for good, now; drama and fear are both anathema to Enlightenment, y’know.)
Yet, in spite of my preference, life doesn’t always work that way, and it’s still easy for me to end up feeling trapped. I have to work a job; have to maintain a stable household for my larva; and moreover I can get a lot more done in the way of writing and learning and studying kungfu when there’s something of a “base schedule” in play.
As I walk around this week sporting a familiar-feeling shit-eating-grin, it’s nice to remember, or reinforce, that this is my preference, and that I feel much better about life when the deck is rocking and the sails are snapping. Sometimes all it takes to give me that feeling is to be working on improving my diet, a new writing project, or teaching myself to sleep less or like black coffee. Even when my life-situation is one that would look restrictive from the outside, I can stave off the anxiety and depression this perspective would cause for me, just by doing a little something to loosen the routine.
Know which “feeling” you prefer — smooth sails or the winds of change — and it’ll help you keep yourself happy, no matter what your outer circumstances are.