Chaos Theory

Chaos is my emotional enemy. Wild, stupid men with nuclear warheads make me nervous. Call me old school. Or snowflake-like. Or simply introverted. Rampant egos with guns in their hands, make me want to hide in the cellar and wait for the storm to pass. Except it doesn’t pass.

Every day this president we have acts like a spoiled kindergartener holding a hand gun, and firing wildly around the classroom. I keep hoping that a grown-up will step in, take the gun, and get him to the school psychologist for an evaluation. We all know what that evaluation will say. That he is a troubled kid, headed for years of incarceration. That if his daddy didn’t own the school, he would be in juvie now, surrounded by armed guards. Yes, even at his tender age. 

A friend of a friend posted this on Facebook yesterday:

“So – here’s the deal the way I see it. He makes chaos and darkness – every day, all day, in every way, wherever he is or has influence. That is the effect he has. And it can drive you nuts, make you cynical, cause despair. The truth does not stop him or his sycophants. They seem impervious to it. So, rather than always taking the bait, what I have found effective as a counter action is to create order whenever I feel his effect coming toward me. Even in small ways – straighten a book on a table; wipe off the counter tops; shift a ring or watch back into position. Be kinder, gentler to the people and things around you. Do anything that moves your world in the opposite direction.”

 I closed my eyes and absorbed the rightness of her comment.

Which led me, of course, to my t-shirt drawer.

It is a mess. It has always been a mess. I have too many shirts crammed in there, and I can never find the one I want to wear. About a year ago, I read about this Japanese way of creating order. It starts with folding things so that they occupy less space. So that you can actually see what you have, and so that you will feel a sense of order when you’re looking for something to wear to Rite-Aid.


I set aside my fears about global warming and withdrawing from the Paris Accord. I sat in my bright, porchy sun room and opened the windows to let in the breeze and the birdsong. I listened to redwing blackbirds, and the neighbor cows, and Roseanne Cash. I dumped all those t-shirts onto a red carpet and started folding. I breathed. 

I folded. I listened. I created a tiny piece of order. I moved on to my long-sleeved t-shirt drawer. And then my pajama drawer. I sat, listening and folding until all of my molecules seemed to be back where they belonged.

Based on the before-and-after results of this experiment, I am making myself a promise. Here it is: I will allow myself exactly twenty minutes of either horror or despair each day. I will consider the people who most suffer as a result of any given horrible and/or discouraging event.

Then I will create order somewhere in my life. I will fold clothes, or write an essay. I will be grateful for my abundant collection of socks, or my granddaughter’s dirty feet tracking over my white carpet. I will dedicate the rest of that day to sowing harmony where someone is creating discord. (Nod to St. Francis.) My weapon might be a vacuum cleaner, my computer keyboard, or my quiet presence in a chemotherapy suite.

Oh, I will still march for peace. I will still wear orange for gun violence prevention. I will continue to vote, and you can count on me to post irritating opinions on Facebook.

But I will sit quietly.

And breathe.

And try to leave my t-shirt drawer and my planet – or those on it – just a little better than I found them that morning.

I will be a rebel warrior.

And you won’t hear a thing.

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