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Chatterbox: Learning sooner is better


On Nov. 2, 2006, Chatterbox talked about chaos. We discussed it with a new outlook. Chaos comes in two flavors: positive and negative. Both have to be dealt with and sorted out but, obviously, joyful chaos, though just as invasive, is far easier to embrace.

My family had two weddings in five months, both occurring during a 13-month, whole house renovation in 2003. Then, at the time of the column, another bridal party had just gathered and dressed here for a third wedding. From make-up to limo departures, chaos was in the house. Glancing through a sun room filled with munching, chattering bridesmaids and hairdressers, it wasn’t until I stood at the end of the second floor hallway filled with twirling merlot gowns that I realized I was enjoying the chaos – not easy for those of us with even low-level OCD, politely known as “fuss-pots.”

Chaos must be restricted when created by bad news, but chaos can and should be enjoyed when created by something wonderful. Sometimes, we’re lucky; it comes with joyful events, like weddings, babies, and moves up “the ladder.” Other times it comes with sadness like illnesses, losing someone we love, or someone moving down – or off – the ladder when hardship ensues. Life happens and, happy or sad, unplanned things rock our world as part of the cosmic chaos. Almost all events that come and go are no part of anyone’s particular plan, but rather are mere happenstance, necessary, or pure survival.

When chaos enters, it’s a lot all at once. There’s nothing to do but adapt, learn to shift … and, it’s imperative to remember that, whether joyful or awful, chaos is always temporary. If it’s happy crazy, we best enjoy it; if it’s not, we must endure it … and we will. All of us experience it and, bad or good, when it comes, there’s no avoiding it. Either way, we do well to understand its brevity, and, if not brief, well … again… temporary.

It’s not news that, most often, many of us first find it as young couples. Usually, we start out in tiny apartments with second hand furniture. Sometimes, we do better but are still on shoestring budgets. For our young people today, sadly, it usually takes two incomes to purchase even a small home, and we’ve all lived, and watched others live, embracing parenthood as well. It makes for even more chaos … much is happy chaos but there is always hardship as well.

Today, American households are bustling in the early morning. Children are dressing and getting shuffled out the doors for school, which starts when their brains are still only half alert. Lunches get packed while breakfast goes mobile. Growing families deal with school schedules, sports schedules, and two parents’ work schedules, some which may include travel. Still, the household must run, homework, laundry and dinner served, but this is the good chaos.

No one will ever pretend any level of mental discipline is easy, even harvesting joy. It’s all practice and fortitude. We must train ourselves for all of it and adjust our mindset but, most of all, if we lower our needs and expectations, we will perfect our skills as we go, keep up with the changes, and enjoy.

Decades ago, I wrote a poem called “The Pebble in the Pool.” It’s reminds us that each life is like that pebble. Once tossed, even as it sinks out of sight, continuous rings radiate from its impact, showing that it existed and testifying to its significance. Other than our rings of lasting work and people we influence, nothing is tangible. We remain only as the effects we create, so we should create positivity, even for ourselves.

The things that really matter in life are easily recognizable because they are those which multiply when we divide them, growing when shared. We can embrace the chaos that comes in the more joyful moments and bring more of it to greater fruition.

Sure, we all have moments when we want to run for cover, but we will easily achieve greater comfort if we give up some of our self and learn to peacefully surrender some of our privacy, our quiet normalcy, organization and control. We can take a look with new perspective. We can give life’s blurring speed, unexpected magnitude and often repetitive insanity, permission to color our world, and we may find that we’re not overwhelmed but, rather, managing – perhaps, even enjoying – the chaos.

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