I’m making a case for chaos.
Let me set the stage:
Last minute, we were invited to an impromptu block party for Halloween. There must have been at least 12 kids all under the age of eight rolling around on scooters, bikes, powerwheels, skateboards, and that inline thing that I’m always tempted to try but looks like a trip to the E.R. All dressed in every variety of costume—from hand-me-downs to homemade, fancy, and coordinated, to something thrown together at the last minute. Masks, fairy wings, cat ears, a couple of tails, a bit of blood, one or two swords, and an enviable toy bow and arrow that, again, I wanted to give a try but didn’t feel like swinging by the E.R. on my way home. It was mayhem.
And something about the whole scene made my heart sing and my entire body relax. Truthfully, that wasn’t the response I was expecting from myself; I sorted anticipated a feeling of overwhelm, but the exact opposite occurred. I couldn’t have been happier.
It wasn’t that there was any semblance of order in the chaos, it was the spirit of play. The feeling of unabashed freedom that often accompanies the creativity of play—the ability to simply be without expectations.
It got me thinking: we spend so much of our days and our lives (both as adults and as kids) focused on creating order and predictability, and to a large degree, we need it. Order and structure have a tendency to lend themselves to soothing our nervous system when we can anticipate what comes next. But sometimes, I think we adhere too rigidly to our expectations. We often try to mold ourselves and our schedules to a structure. But what happens when the structures and scaffolding that you have built to support you become too rigid and begin to confine you?
I’m curious about this—do we notice when we’ve become too regimented? Do we do it to conform? Do we adopt so much structure and scheduling in an attempt to “fit it all in?” I know I have.
There are plenty of times that I have found myself married to my schedule. Strict adherence in fear of missing something, letting something fall through the cracks, or being left behind the curve. When I slip into this utilitarian existence of just “getting things done,” I find myself trying exhaustively to uphold a near unreachable set of expectations for myself and always feeling like I’m missing the mark. Think: existing more than living.
And to no surprise, in a bid for order, structure, and task accomplishment, I completely forget the beauty of play and chaos. The beauty that exists in just seeing what happens rather than trying to have it all mapped out. The embrace of complete and utter freedom without worry.
It’s time to flip this paradigm on its head.
I know we need both order and mayhem—as a human, I know it, as a mama, I know it, as a psychotherapist, I know it. But for today, just for today…how can we let a little more chaos in to remind us that we are alive?