Someone was asking if I ever find beauty in chaos. I guess the answer to that is a full stop “No!” I’ve had enough chaotic moments to last a lifetime. I am one of those people who not only prefers order, I actually require it. Blame it on a bit of dyslexia or attention deficit disorder or obsessive compulsive tendencies or perhaps all three things. My brain literally stops working correctly when unpredictable disorder ensues.
As a teacher I planned every moment of every day down to the smallest detail. Because I understood that things rarely go exactly as hoped, I prepared lists of alternatives from A to Z in case something did not work or the unusual occurred. I walked up and down the aisles of my classroom considering how well students would be able to see and whether or not I would in turn be able to keep an eye on them. I attempted to predict all of the possible unintended consequences of having almost thirty souls confined to a small space and prepared accordingly.
I stocked my classroom with extra paper, pencils, markers, pens, tissues, paper towels, paper clips, staples, bandaids, anything that someone might have occasion to need. My lesson plans included extra work in case my students wizzed through a lesson. I had alternative learning activities in the chance that my original instructions bombed. I kept books for students to read if they finished tests early, puzzles they might do for enrichment if they seemed bored. Mine was an orderly world on paper, but all too often everything changed in an instant.
I’ve experienced the gamut of unexpected occurrences. I’ve had a nine year old student bring powdered chlorine to school which he sold to other students as cocaine. I’ve seen the usual vomiting and unnerving epileptic seizure. I’ve had to leave my classroom in the care of another teacher while I coaxed one of my students from jamming a pair of scissors into his jugular. I’ve had to break up fights and pass out tissues to girls who had just lost their boyfriends. I’ve had projects that were fun but ended up making messes in the classroom that I had not anticipated. In spite of my best laid plans my students surprised me again and again.
Life has a way of being chaotic at times no matter how much we try to keep things going smoothly. We don’t expect to have an accident or for someone to get sick enough to need hospitalization. We rock along and then someone dies without warning. If we are really unfortunate we find ourselves in some very dangerous situations. We can only be so safe, take so many precautions. It is impossible to isolate ourselves from chaos, even if we decide to become hermits.
My maternal grandmother reached a point in life after which she never left her home. Two of her unmarried sons lived with her and cared for her. They paid the bills, purchased groceries, made repairs on the house. She happily tended her garden and cooked and cleaned. She seemed not to miss interacting with society at all. Her children and grandchildren visited regularly so she was never alone. She was content with the slow pace of of final years and the only time she left the comfort of her isolation was when she had medical emergencies.
Most of us would not want such a lifestyle nor would we be able to have it. As we go about our business we never know what might happen to us. We accept that there will be times when we completely lose control of our situations for the joy of interacting with our fellow humans. Chaos in small doses once in awhile is not so bad. I can take being part of a massive crowd at a ball game or a concert because I know that it is only temporary. If I had to endure that kind of thing frequently I would become unbearably anxious.
I often think of people who live in war zones, the ultimate in chaos. i really don’t know how they keep their minds intact. For me that would be the worst case scenario which is why I never understand those who openly advocate for things like civil war. I suspect that such folks have not really thought through the horrors of such a situation, the deaths, the damaged buildings, the homelessness. War is one of the most unreasonable and unbearable sins against humanity.
Even animals have an order and design to their existences. Bees have a chain of command and a hive that is as organized as it gets. Watching ants build a mound is fascinating. There are rules, instincts that only fall apart if other species arrive to throw the system into disarray. Chaos is unnatural. A virus follows natural rules even as humans reek chaos dealing with it.
I am a planner, a quiet thinker. I’ll stick to as much routine as possible. Soon enough chaos will come my way. Hopefully I will ready to adjust to it, but I am rather certain that I may get overwhelmed by it and I won’t enjoy that feeling.