Chaos and Creativity

“Every single morning we have the choice to be open to the creativity of chaos, open to the world around us, open to the possibility that we can make our lives afresh…”

~John Briggs & F. David Peat, The Seven Life Lessons of Chaos

Chaos surrounds us in nature, as does order. Without one, how can the other be defined?

I used to walk through Fairmont Park in Philadelphia, following a trail built in the 1890s by founding fathers who recognized the natural beauty of the surrounding forest. An ancient stone bridge arched over Cresheim Creek, and the trail led past quiet pools and majestic deciduous trees.  My daily walks along that trail provided solace during a difficult time of my life.

One night a massive hurricane’s northern rain band lashed Philly, but the morning was clear, so I set out on my daily walk.  My trail was gone!  The 125-year-old bridge was nothing more than disconnected blocks of stone tumbling down the creek.  Giant upended roots turned the creek into a mire of rivulets running over piles of debris. Order had become chaos.

Having recently experienced my own life descend into chaos, that broken trail seemed metaphoric.  My life path going forward was unknown as was the trail along a creek.  Nature had placed a mirror up to my life, or perhaps my life mirrored nature.

As months went by, a new trail asserted itself.  Order returned, created from the jumble I first observed. The trail would never be the same, nor the same bridge rebuilt, but a new way forward did emerge, not only through the woods, but also in my life.  As chaos theorists tell us, creative forces were not just unleashed within that chaotic event, but also strengthened and awakened.

As world events wash over us with what feels like chaos, I am comforted by the natural law that creativity is birthed by disorder.  The chaos/order balance that seems essential to the creative process can be seen everywhere.  That doesn’t mean we humans, the great workers of the world, can just stand back and watch, but it may mean if you look carefully, you may see openings that lead to creativity and order.  Choose your tools of choice.

We have work to do!

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