Random life events reveal patterns over time
We writers are an isolated bunch who wander through wildernesses of meaning alone, lonely.
Life is chaotic, filled oftentimes with random, unconnected events.
College is an especially chaotic time, filled with "major" crises on a daily basis and major events.
As a sophomore at BYU in Utah 20 years ago, I had changed my major 3 times in the same week, and entered my first advanced composition session, a bit frumpy.
I was pissed off that I had to take the class, even though I enjoyed literature and writing. My final major change that week had been from English to psychology, and I wanted to learn about psychology.
My pride and arrogance made me feel confident that I did not need a writing class that would take up a lot of my time.
I arrived late to my first class, sweaty, annoyed at my indecision with the major, exhausted by the paper and leg work I had gone through to juggle it. I was sweaty and looking rough.
The customary first day introductions annoyed me as well because I didn't care.
When my turn came to stand up and state my name and major, I grumbled "Darin Hammond. I am a psychology major now, but majoring in English just before this class." I hated the class already.
My female, PhD student's genuine response to my introduction: "Why did you leave English?"
My response revealed me as an isolated wanderer. I was so clueless and in my own world that I didn't anticipate how my curt responses would be interpreted by my teacher.
"I left because I don't want to be a teacher."
Yes, I said that to her on the first day of class, and her impression of me must have been that I was: sexist, insulting, ignorant, and thoughtless.
She spun it well though,"But you don't have to be a teacher. You can be a writer." I glared at her and thought that if it were that simple I would do it. "You could write for Psychology Today."
I smiled sheepishly and slumped into my seat.
The idea seemed preposterous, that I could actually be an author. Secretly, becoming a writer was a dream I had already given up. It would be too hard to find jobs I assumed.
Suddenly, I found myself in PhD seminars in English, with 11 years tenure as an university English instructor.
And, I wasn't a writer. I was an academic, and the formality of my life wore down my rough edges and arrogance. The years had also squelched my writing dreams.
I hit a point of panic when I questioned everything, especially my position as a teacher. I confronted head on all the crap I thought I knew and believed. I found that I was a hollow man.
Adapting to changes by following your thoughts and feelings creates meaning
The irony was that I had been on my path all along. A writer travels many trails through the wilderness, and the process itself is a pattern. You have nothing to write if you have not lived.
Writers travel through chaos in order to write a life of meaning in words. They create design from chaos, and they shape their lives and meaning in the process.
I embraced my true self when I published my first blog post about that same subject: finding design in chaos. I exposed my essence in that first article.
I found the authentic writer withing me, but to do it I had to be in the present moment so that I could observe the past and future from a distance.
I saw the pattern of my life, and it was beautiful, somehow chaotic and ordered at the same time.
Seeing a pattern in the chaos of your life is a pivotal move that will forever alter the trajectory of your life.
Life has been difficult since I embraced my writing self. But I am honest, whole, and I embrace the pattern of my past. I recognize, looking back, a twisted, messy system, leading me inevitably to a blank blog page.
Leslie Dean Brown, speaking of chaos theory says "Nothing is purely random, every event is at most chaotic. People have invented the word 'random' for describing the behaviour of things that they simply can't comprehend." My past is not random but chaotic, each individual decision having a profound effect on the pattern of my life.
If you have problems seeing meaning or purpose in your past, it stems from ignorance about chaos and design. The twists and turns of what seem like random life events, form a system when looking back. Any variation in position or quality of an event changes forever the way your future unfolds.
You must embrace the fact that messy is okay.
You are like me. A writer. You will not be happy unless you write, whether it is for a living or a passionate hobby. The act of writing changes the trajectory of your life, for the better.
Writing and blogging are actions that alter your future and shape the system you create with your life.
And, blogging is a unique social and psychological tool to make tactical changes in your life system.
Once you start blogging, point your self forward in an undeviating course of change and progress, for you are finally leaving the wilderness and entering civilization.
Turning back, questioning the past, reliving past regrets will return you to the wilderness. Doubt will trample your dreams unless you consciously shape your life with each decision that you make.
Social blogging is a powerful way of engaging life in the present moment, adapting to changes, learning from failures, finding patterns and direction, and creating a happy and meaningful existence.
I am on my way, and I hope you are too. Consciously design the chaotic system of your life and reflect on the beauty of the journey.
We writers wander, but we can wander with intention, making conscious choices based on past experiences. Writing is your tool for designing a beautiful life full of changes that form a larger, meaningful system.
I challenge you to use your writing tools consciously to change your world, writing a beautiful system that elevates all of humanity. Yes, your chaos influences the chaos of the lives of a huge number of people.
Create a chaotic life system that influences positively all systems you influence. At this point, I have found design and meaning (without god), and I will plunge into the future making decisions that have positive ripples that rub up against you.
The images below are an attempt to capture the concept of chaos theory visually. The big picture is beautiful.
I leave you with an awesome TedTalk to watch by Stephen Wolfgram. His ideas about patterns, computation, fractals, and design are an amazing backdrop to my article.
Stephen Wolfram: Computing a theory of all knowledge - Filmed February 2010 at TED2010
I also include a graphic depiction of a fractal pattern which you understand if you watched the video.
You cannot see the system or pattern in the beginning stages or in pieces. It is only after many permutations of the events that the design and beauty emerges, looking at the big picture.
Send some positive chaos ripples from your own life to me so that I can benefit from your journey. I'll do the same.
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