The Joy of Chaos

~ An idea came to me recently, as a novelty, and to introduce a little spice into my dead-set routine: what if every night before bed, I flipped a coin? Naturally, the flip resolves me toward one of two choices. The dictate of its landing would determine the action I’d take that night, as well as the next morning, regarding my consumption or creation of a narrative.

Heads = I write tonight, and read in the morning.

Tails = I read tonight, and write in the morning.

I imply here that my normal routine is to do one or the other each night and morning, and that’s true — in that that is my goal. But the truer truth is that I falter in one or both regards rather often. I am a well-adapted {or maladapted, depending on one’s perspective} night owl, and so I like to fire up the creative juices at least a little before trying {and usually failing} to go to bed on time. Except more often than I am willing to admit or even realize, my motivation leaves me just when I need it to roost. It goes rogue, concerning my desire to read, or to write, and I end up spending valuable night hour(s) doing something less meaningful and less productive, and much easier, such as watch anime, YouTube, tune into a stupid podcast or scroll absurdist twitter threads.

The coin flip would ideally change this whole equation and my waffling struggle with it. In the action to flip a coin to determine my course, I would be compelling myself with forces entirely beyond my control. The chaos of the coin would allow for me to offload the responsibility of my motivation to do either thing. You could say, “well you just need to hone your self-discipline and force yourself to write every night! *obnoxious scoff*” Yes, you are certainly right, that would be a good thing to develop {working on it!}. But the coin does something else — it also presents me with a tantalizing unknown. Rather than setting up a routine where no matter what, I write every night and read every morning, or I write or read every other day in a trade-off — instead, on any given night, I have no idea what I will be doing. This makes it — my routine — just a bit more exciting. On any given night, I have to be ready for anything, compelled by a coin unto creative action or consumption. And then on the back end, I try to make use of my morning in more productive ways than I am used to. The coin sets my routine into new and emergent methodology, ever-changing and never resolute one way or the other. The coin shifts the whole enterprise and from here on, is beholden by a chaotic tilting within the air of my insomnia-ridden nights.

I haven’t done this coin thing yet, it is an unexecuted idea. I still go to sleep too late. I read sometimes to wind down. Less and less do I write, in the hopes of going to bed earlier and easier {reading can make me sleepy, writing less so}. With this trend, I choose to counter my insomnia by shutting everything down earlier {this is good}; and yet, I know in my heart I am likely sacrificing some quality writing time during deep night, when I may ponder strange and fascinating things that I would never otherwise think of in the witching hours of weirdly sleepless and void-imbued nights of restless releases {this is also good? Or is it bad and I am every day missing sprites from the void by going to sleep… How foolish of me}. But alas, I am going down a rabbit hole within a rabbit hole, automatically writing all this without end, perhaps without a point? True to the chaos in the title, I am off the rails.

no. I do have a point. Let me bring it all back onto said rails. My point has to do with chaos, and with the whole anecdote I laid out above — which I haven’t yet consummated but plan to! Believe me! — and how it has spawned additional ideas, one in particular, about willfully, consciously, painstakingly trying to implement more chaos in my life. The coin could just be the start. Where to start with chaos? Where to start with engineering more of it in my life? Isn’t there something oxymoronic about trying to engineer chaos? That sounds like order doesn’t it? Has anyone ever really contemplated the nature and the truth of chaos and order really being opposites? I haven’t. Maybe I have, but never went far enough before. I won’t here. Back to my point: CHAOS.

What even is ‘chaos’? Chaos {disambiguated}. Chaos {cosmogony} — the Big Bang and quantum mechanics and such. Chaos {magic} — using the power of belief and postmodernist thinking to perceptually effective and real-world ends. Chaos {lawlessness} — a lack of law, anarchy, anomie and the like. Chaos theory — “the butterfly effect” and whatnot, i.e. small things matter and make waves. Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. There sure is a lot of chaos out there. {I’ve written the word ‘chaos’ enough times here that it is starting to look weird and alien to me as a collection of letters} Here’s my simple definition: Chaos is not knowing what will happen next. By this definition, freewriting is like ‘chaos writing.’ Cool. And by these terms, chaos comes in handy in fiction most of all, doesn’t it? Especially in thrillers and mysteries and in horror. But we like it elsewhere too, even if we won’t admit to it or don’t understand it in abstract. Watching sports, playing sports. Gaming. Gambling. Investing in volatile stocks and cryptocurrencies {which are not really investments because they have no internal rate of return, which doesn’t mean you won’t make money sometimes {see: gambling}… but I very much digress…}. Watching Planet Earth. Walking in a forest. Traveling to unknown places. Driving around without a map. When you are overwhelmed by your work and your life and your friends and your enemies and you have no idea how you will handle it all piling up all at once, threatening to eat you up, and then you get through it, or escape it, or crush it all into a resolute victory… That’s some good ish. Maybe the best ish there is. 

When we roll the dice on an experience, we want to win. Of course. But unconsciously, knowing that we may lose, or fail to do anything good, makes it exciting. This is probably all self-evident. But I think most people only think of winning, and the satisfaction it brings and think nothing of the specter of loss and how it adds ALL of the spice to that opposing, potential satisfaction. When we do chaos, we are entering into a game where things may turn out bad — but that makes the good mean something. Maybe I’m not making sense. Maybe chaos just means adding more opportunity for failure and/or death. {Maybe that’s why it is so exciting! What could be more exciting, more high risk/high reward, than life-or-death stakes?} Maybe chaos is just doing random things to make even more random things happen, and in doing so, you must contend with the results of all this compounding randomness, leading onto the path of potential self-destruction — and thus, you learn about yourself: Self-discovery via self-destruction… Yeah.

Anyways. The endpoint {end-hope, maybe?} here is that chaos is good, and there is joy in it. And not just potentiality for joy. There is genuine joy in chaos itself. This is the thesis of this increasingly chaotic and rambling post. Getting caught up in the side conversations and side quests and sideways choices and paths we never thought we’d end up making and taking — that is the real stuff of life. Right? The best ish. Maybe I just want to believe this. But if I have learned anything about human nature and about our neurochemistry, wanting to believe in something is at least as good as the real thing. If I continue to go forward with all this, does that make me a certified chaos magician? Perhaps it will through … spontaneity. Yes, that’s it! Spontaneity, as an actionable element to implement in one’s life as a spice within the pot — acting more compulsively, trying new things, going out and about in the world essentially without any map … This is something that is worthy of doing more of and possible, maybe even easy, to execute.

In short: I need to chaos more.

I could get started at any time … I am starting right now.

The question inevitably then turns to — where in my life can I introduce more chaos, more spontaneity?

I’m not so certain. In fact, I am instantly uncertain, lost in the chaos of the whole endeavor. There is a coming chaos in my brainstorms on the matter {and coming joy, right?}. I could begin by drawing up a list of 10 things I would never say or do, out of fear, or anxiety, or shamefulness. Yes, this sounds like a plan. I will never see it coming! Ah, but ‘plan’ kinda counters the whole ‘chaos’ thing, remember? … Hrm.

Gah, I’ll start with flipping this coin. ~

Chaos by George Frederic Watts