Opinion Philosophy

Maneuvering Through the Maze of Chaos

"Chaos" typed on a page, maneuvering through the maze of chaos is the ultimate test


Chaos is defined as the unknown, the dangerous, and the unexpected. Jordan Peterson talks about chaos as the central theme of the hero’s journey. The hero, trying to restore order and safety to the world, ventures out into the chaotic abyss and encounters dangers and challenges. Maneuvering through the maze of chaos is the fundamental challenge you will face in life.

Short Term Chaos

In reality, there many forms of chaos. But the two generic, temporal forms are relevant to everyone. Namely, short term and long term chaos. Short term chaos is when you fail to meet your day to day demands. It’s when your inbox is contaminated with unread emails or when your car malfunctions. These are examples of situations where you encounter the unknown, but they are usually resolved within a few hours or days.

Long Term Chaos

The long term variation is when you are in a state of chaos without recognizing it as such. Let’s say you decided to study the wrong subject in university. In the short term, you will have to deal with the daily chaos that emerges from your decision. You will need to figure out how to study, what to study, for how long, and with who. Sometimes you’ll argue with your professor over an assignment, or with your group over a project you were working on. These are all forms of short term chaos, and they will take up most of your attention, time, and energy. But they are all nested within long term chaos. That’s when you find yourself – after several years – realizing that you were studying the wrong subject or pursuing the wrong career, that’s when your identity begins to unravel.

It’s when you realize that you have trusted others too much, and are no longer sure you can trust yourself. If you were capable of making the wrong choices in the past. What’s stopping you from doing so now?

Long term chaos happens infrequently, but when it does, it shakes your foundations, and your faith in everything. Dealing with short term chaos is comparatively trivial. Despite its frequency, short term chaos is resolved quickly and does little damage to your sense of self, or your trust in others. But when short term chaos builds up, it results in long term chaos – the accumulation of mistakes over a long period.

It slowly accrues as you decided to be lazy that day, and postpone studying. It happens when you didn’t finish reading an important book, or finish that project you promised yourself you would complete. It happens when you have abandoned your workout schedule, and stopped eating properly. It builds when you lie to yourself and to others about what you really wanted to do that day. It occurs in individually insignificant moments, but these moments will eventually culminate in a formidable leviathan of your own making.

Long term chaos can be devastating, but it can also be revolutionary. It can shock you into action, and force you to change your ways. When you realize that you have been the cause of your own unnecessary suffering for so long, you are faced with an important choice. You can relieve yourself of the burden of responsibility of turning your life around, and continue to live in chaos resentfully. Or you can uncomfortably push yourself to redeem yourself of your past mistakes.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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