By nature humans like patterns, a consistency we can follow and predict or know what will happen next. We look for it in Nature and Science; we look for it in History (most people ignore this . . .); we look for it even for our own bodies and minds. It makes us feel in control. We desire such control because, when you think about it, we are very small in a very large universe. And this universe we try to create patterns and order is incredibly, wonderfully chaotic.
In everything we try to sort out and the subjects we seek patterns in are – for the most part – disordered. As a writer and a bodybuilder, my mind and body are actively begging me to stick to habits. They don’t want to get better; they don’t want to work. Because work is hard. Change is hard.
I struggle with embracing chaos. I want to have a typical daily schedule, so my body and mind will know how to run any time of the day like a well-oiled machine. In everything I wish there could be consistency. Consistency means stability and safety. It’s something to rely and fall back on. Consistency creates rules, the kind of rules I follow when writing: the rules of grammar, sentence structure, and agreed-upon plot arcs. But sometimes as an artist we need inconsistency. We need chaos.
As great as rules and structure and consistency are, artists and athletes need chaos sometimes to change things up. This keeps us sharp and highly capable of adapting as we get better at doing the things we love. Adapting too, also, to the seemingly constant change of how the game is played: what people are reading season to season or what new exercises and supplements are out there to help with those gains.
I think, aside from writing and lifting, this applies a lot to my day to day schedule, the routine I’d like to live by. This routine (in no particular order) consists of setting time to write, to exercise, and to do my Mundane Job – the one that makes me money and what Muggles would consider a normal job. I noticed I craved this kind of structure to my life whenever I would go on trips these past summer months. Whenever I found myself lacking one of these three criteria, I felt almost ill. I couldn’t think of anything else. I was so obsessed with getting back home to resume my routine that I didn’t take advantage of the break and to absorb the places I went, the experiences I had.
I ignored the chaos.
And this isn’t limited to just me. I bet countless people, maybe even some of you reading this blog post, have an obsession with your daily routine. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be related to scheduling. It could be a habit you’ve repeated in a hobby or a plateau you’ve hit in the gym or you desire to be healthier or make more money. Maybe you work your Mundane Job all week in desperation for the weekend when you suck on the short time of freedom away from the slavery of Structure. I’m not saying quit your current habit and throw your life into the blender; some of us need to suffer under Muggle rules before we can live how we truly wish to. If this applies to you, hang in there. I know I’m having to. And when we’re ready to start achieving our passion (be it in a year from now or five [please don’t let it be five!]) celebrate. Know that the time under the Structure has come to an end. Or else we can live by it on our own terms.
I think you might walk away from this post with the opinion I hate structure and consistency. I don’t. Structure has its place; Chaos has its place. The knowledge of when to recruit one or the other takes time and practice and a willingness to be miserable and fail for a little while. Is that going to be fun? Nope. Just know there’s another hill ahead. Flourishing under routine chaos is possible, and it provides the freedom and privilege of being able to do what makes us happy. Because being able to work our passion and enjoy doing it is a privilege few make reality. If you have the right timing, the right motive, and the right measure of ambition, routine chaos could be the secret to prosperity.