No one would describe me as a clumsy person. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I took ballet for years and my reflexes are quick but in the last week, I’m a veritable butterfingers. Objects are literally jumping from my hands. I was in a store the other day and my credit card flew across the counter six feet away and got wedged between a table and the wall. I opened a package and the contents skittered across my kitchen floor.
More energy is coursing through my system, my mind and body are going in a million different directions, and I can’t seem to sit still. Again, that’s highly unusual for me! I generally don’t have problems with focus but these days my insides (and outsides, honestly) feel chaotic, messy, and discombobulated. Normally I’d try to tamp all this down and rein the energy back in but I keep thinking about what my chiropractor tells me about this phase of my healing: “You’re reorganizing.” I’m like a tornado picking up objects and hurtling them to another location.
The question worth asking is, “What will be created from all this disarray?” There’s a quote on my fridge from Friedrich Nietzsche that says, “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” So often chaos is painted as scary, undesirable, something to avoid at all costs but as Reggie Ray, the spiritual director of the Dharma Ocean, said in a dharma talk, “Chaos is the source of life.”
Oooooh boy. Chaos is the source of life? It’s not order and structure? Sadly, no. As we are all aware, we are made up of stardust, to paraphrase Carl Sagan. To quote an article on the subject:
“The carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms in our bodies, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements, were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago. Because humans and every other animal as well as most of the matter on Earth contain these elements, we are literally made of star stuff.”
What that means is we’re the product of chaos. All the debris from supernovas exploding and comets colliding led to us. It also led to some of the things we consider the most precious. Ultra-high precision analyses of some of the oldest rock samples on Earth by researchers at the University of Bristol provide clear evidence that “the planet’s accessible reserves of precious metals are the result of a bombardment of meteorites more than 200 million years after Earth was formed.” Gold? Platinum? Both here because of meteors.
In my spiritual tradition, we use the word “clash” a lot, which describes the meeting of opposing forces. If you think about it, that’s basically what chaos is. One force is striving for order, the familiar, the steady whereas another is calling for disorder, the new, the unsteady. My spiritual teacher says, “Whenever there is clash or conflict within any structure, whether subtle or crude, it acquires subtlety. This applies to both psychic clash and physical clash. The more subtle the crude mind becomes as a result of internal clash, the greater its spiritual awakening.”
What’s happening to me, I think, is another spiritual awakening where I’m becoming more myself but to create that new me requires some chaos.
I dream of a world where we understand to create something new, including ourselves, requires chaos sometimes. A world where we recognize there may be gold waiting for us at the end of an unstable period. A world where we realize internal clash and conflict is an asset, spurring spiritual growth.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.