Chaos is an interesting concept. The word comes into our language from Greek mythology, expressing the first thing—the abyss. This seems quite a different take from our popular concept of chaos as disorder—a complete and hopeless mess. When all of our illusions of control no longer seem to be operating, we use the chaos word in a negative and hopeless framing of how far things are “out of order.”
Perhaps chaos is more of a case of lack of vision than an actual condition. When my young clients use a dollhouse for play therapy, I sometimes see them meticulously construct a traditional arrangement of a home and then throw it all over. A new idea may be coming into their minds of how they really want to arrange it, and they are not hesitant to make a little chaos for a fresh start.
The hardest part about change is our tendency to want to hold on to things as they have always been, even if the comfort of them is questionable. There is the fear of the time between leaving one trapeze bar and getting a hold on the next bar. There may not even be a next bar yet in sight. This fear of chaos, with nothing to “hold on to” that can prevent us from moving forward. Leaving home for college, deciding to make a career change, moving where we live, having a child, getting married or getting unmarried, investing in a new venture, as well as working through any significant personal loss can for a time include the experience of feeling chaos.
The tolerance of the feeling of chaos is mitigated by thinking of it as a stage, one that, as uncomfortable as it is, will pass. Even though things may seem to be hopelessly out of order, there are the possibilities of whole new worlds taking shape out of the pieces of “order” we have come to rely on. The pain of this process may be undeniable, but the suffering of it is optional, depending on how we look at it.