Joanne Reed

Mind-blowing.Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com.

If you could describe in one word the world we are living in right now, what would it be? Tricky question, right? True, but it is a useful and fun game because it forces you to gather your thoughts in a precise and concise manner and pack everything of importance into one little word! Coming back to my original question, describe the world we are living in right now in one word. I would say, MIND-BLOWING!

According to the Cambridge dictionary, mind-blowing means surprising shocking, and often difficult to understand or imagine. Just looking at what is happening around the world right now, I feel like I am on a movie set taking part in a dystopian movie, full of drama, natural disasters (fires, hurricanes, floods), war (overt and covert), topped up by a worldwide pandemic. I wish this could just be a movie that I can pause or stop because really it is a bit too painful to watch; except that we are not on a movie set, we are living in this world I just described. Mind-blowing!

The anger, fear, and desperation are mind-blowing. We are living in an age of despair and fractured communities, the world currently is filled with fear, stress, anger, frustration, rage, and sadness. There seems to be more pain than we can heal, more dissent than we can mediate, and more uncertainty than we can comprehend. People don’t know what to do and where to run to. Where can we run to get away from the fires? Where can we rush to get away from the floods and hurricanes? Where can we escape from the virus? Who can we turn to when we get disconnected from our family, friends, and colleagues because we have very different opinions about what’s going on?

But underneath all that muck there is something good that is happening. Whether we like it or not these past two years forced us into a kind of rehabilitation center where we had to face our fears and come to some harsh realization. i.e there are some things that are essential and there are a whole bunch of things that are not. We have all been forced into this Back-to-basics-religious- kind -of-experience, where food, water, shelter, health, resources (including, human & financial), and connection are of paramount importance. The rest is superfluous. Maybe we had to go through such pain to become more aware and conscious of our purpose and the need for us to become stronger, healthier, more resilient, and more aware.

There has never been so much chaos in recent history, it is mind-blowing

Mind-blowing.Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

Life is not always a party; we need therefore to learn how to shoulder the burden of being. Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness. We eternally inhabit order, surrounded by chaos. Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the sickness or death of a family member. It is the place where you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, when your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is where new ideas destroy old and comfortable certainties. Chaos is where your well-thought project is canceled at the last minute because of some force majeure event (pandemic) and the implementation of new regulations. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we are doing and where we don’t know where we are going.

Chaos is a place where everything is complex and unpredictable. Order is explored territory; it is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. It’s the warm, secure living room where the fireplace glows, and the children play. It’s the flag of the nation. It’s the floor underneath your feet and your plan for the day. It’s the greatness of tradition, the row of desks in a school classroom, the train that leaves on time, the calendar, and the clock. We’re in there when things are going according to plan, and nothing is new and disturbing.

Order is the place where all things turn out the way we want them to. In Order, we’re able to think about things in the long run. There, things work, and we are stable, calm, and competent. We seldom leave places we understand – geographical and conceptual – for that reason. Order is where everything is certain. Order is the political culture, the government, the corporate environment, and the system.

But Order can also be the place where things are so rigid that it’s repetitive and restrictive. Order can be tyrannical when it demands certainty, uniformity, compliance without the right to think critically. Order can become tyrannical when it becomes too one-sided when you preach intolerance in the name of tolerance. Order, when pushed too far, can also manifest itself destructively and terribly and lead you straight to tyranny.

When the ice you’re skating on is solid, that’s order. When the bottom drops out, and things fall apart, and you plunge through the ice; that’s chaos. We eternally occupy known territory, surrounded by the unknown. There are so many ways that things can fall apart or fail to work altogether, and it is those with fortitude and perseverance who valiantly fight their way through chaos who will come on the other side, battered but victorious.

“Order is Masculine, and Chaos is Feminine. Therefore, to move towards Order, we all need to man up.”
John Crace

The solution is mind-blowing: Learn to navigate between order and chaos.

Mind-blowing.Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

Order and Chaos are the yang and yin of the famous Taoist symbol: two serpents, head to tail. Order is the white, masculine serpent. Chaos is its black feminine counterpart. The black dot in the white – and the white dot in the black – indicate the possibility of transformation: just when things seem secure, the unknown can loom, unexpectedly and large. Conversely, just when everything seems lost, a new order can emerge from catastrophe and chaos. For the Taoists, meaning is to be found on the border between the yin and the yang, between the ever-entwined pair, i.e. the Middle Way or the Divine Way.

The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:14: “Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’

To saddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security and the other in chaos will lead to growth and adventure. Everyone understands order and chaos, good and evil. We all have a palpable sense of chaos lurking under everything familiar. We’ve all been to both places many times. No matter where we are, there are some things we can identify, make use of, and predict, and some things we neither know nor understand. No matter where we are, some things are under our control, and some things are not.

Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable and secure and unchanging because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while learning what you still need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control, and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged.

So, in order to cope, survive and even thrive in a world that is mind-blowing you have to learn the art of navigating between Order and Chaos.

And this my dear friend, is your Quest.

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As an author, I made it my Quest to write about anything that nourishes and educates the mind with a zest of philosophy, plenty of good vibes, and this little 'Je ne sais quoi'. You can never underestimate the power of storytelling. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves, and about others.


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