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  • Sarah Menzies

Order and Chaos

I'm reading the best book at the moment, not necessarily my favourite book ever, but definitely the best book for me at the moment. It is Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules for Life, although it wasn't the rules that interested me, it seldom is, but the tag line "An antidote to Chaos".


I'm guessing if Dr Peterson new how popular lists would be come in the three years since his book was published he may have decided on a different title, as the book is less a list of rules and more a musing on 12 topics. I am truly enthralled by it. It's like he's taken the ideas that have been swirling around on the edge of my conscious thought, solidified them and made them real.


Since Lauren died I've been interested in Buddhism, the ying and yang, order and chaos, reincarnation. The world has become a different place for me, the questions I ask of it have changed.


I don't like "self help" books I find them at best condescending and often ill informed and just plain wrong. What I search for instead is a new understanding, my rule book was ripped up with Lauren's death, I was thrown into chaos and needed to find a new world order.


Peterson argues that the reason for life is not the pursuit of happiness for if that was the case, when unhappy incidents occur there would be no point to life. What we actually should pursue is personal development. He explains it much better than me. But as I understand it pain is a part of life, intrinsic to our journey through life. Without pain (or chaos) there could be no happiness (or order), for there to be light, there must also be dark. What matters is how we react to it. That is why stories from before biblical times tell of great suffering, of famine and plague. Because human life is all about suffering, it is necessary for us to grow.


Obviously not all suffering will be like mine, some may be a lost job, a failed relationship, but all involve personal pain. Pain is real.


My life with Lauren was all about order. As a mum of 3 school age kids order was important. I'm not talking about routine such as bathtimes/bedtimes but the known rather than the unknown. I guess I sometimes erred too much on the side of order, or became the "fun police " as the kids would say. Because although order is good, too much order is stifling.


With Lauren's death came chaos, painful, unexpected chaos. To avoid being swamped by it, eaten up and spat out on to the shores of depression and anger, I need to find my new order.


It's not easy, my friends and family are my constant, they are my order. They have saved me. Without them, without some order to cling too, I'm not sure it would be possible to pull myself up.


But now, my actions need to be coloured by Laurens death. I have seen the chaos and I still survive. It is a present tense as it is current, the struggle to survive. Experiencing the chaos, the suffering, makes other life events less scary. I can handle a failed exam, a problematic child, even a failed friendship. I do not want to, but they do not scare me, I could deal with it.


This knowledge, the lack of fear of the unknown, allows me to get close to the Divine Way. This is what the Buddhist call the path to enlightenment, the narrow route between both chaos and order, which takes in some of both. Laurens death affords me this. It isn't much of a trade off, I'll confirm, but we must take what we can.


Perhaps it could be argued that the metamorphis of death relates not to the deceased, but to those left living?


Or perhaps I've just had too much sangria?




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