Sunday Scribblings #33 - I don't want to be a passenger in my own life."

The prompt for Sunday Scribblings this week is a quote: "I don't want to be a passenger in my own life." (Diane Ackerman, picture on left.)

Ackerman has a few quotes out there, and of course it is always best to read her entire works to obtain a better grasp of the concept she is attempting to flesh out. She is an intriguing author to me, if only for priceless gems such as "When I go biking I am mentally far far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart."

I have chosen to focus on the quote, rather than launch into her work itself. Whereas we could interpret the quote from a variety of angles, contemplating everything from our desire to maintain control of our lives to allowing a supernatural force function as our co-pilot, I think it's best to consider how we often surrender our lives to the winds of fate, be it by our own will or by a cruel twist of life itself.

Long ago, I discovered that I can not become the master of my own destiny. I could set a goal for myself, and strive to complete it. If I poured my life energy into that task, I would certainly achieve my desires, but at a cost. We, as humans, demand order. We desire stability. We thirst unquenchably for the ability to take the reigns and set our own pace. We, as humans, are fools, for we beat our heads on the wall when our pathway to achievement is interrupted. We allow ourselves to become depressed - to have something depress us into a state of non-doing. We thrash and lament and scream curses to God, or fate, or our neighbor.

I am a firm disciple of
Tao and Chaos Theory. To hell with being in control.

What exactly is chaos? The name "chaos theory" comes from the fact that the systems that the theory describes are apparently disordered, but chaos theory is really about finding the underlying order in apparently random data. To make a long story short: it's the butterfly effect. It's fractals. It's setting out to do one thing, and taking a side journey. It's a pool table where the ball never rolls exactly the same way twice, due to imperfections on the surface of the ball as well as the felt on the table.

Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas? It is quite possible. Is it Tao? Most certainly.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.

Please do not confuse the philosophical thinking of Tao with some strange Buddhist chanting or religion. To be Tao is to be one with everything, while being one with nothing. It is to bend like a blade of grass in the wind, but to also be the wind that bends the blade. Tao is the way. All things are Tao.

Chaos itself is a buffeting, hard-to-project force. A = B = C and eventually C will divide into C1, C2, C3, which in turn each shall branch into C1AB, C2AB etc. We can not hope to plot the entire course, as we do not always know when life will toss in a fractal. In a single sneeze, a parallel universe can be born or destroyed.

Tao (the philosophy) is the ability to go with the flow of chaos theory. If your favorite tea cup shatters, all the screaming in the world will not restore it. You have two options: you may scream and rant and pick up the pieces, or you may acknowledge that the cup is forever broken, grieve a moment for that cup, and continue with your life.

For the benefit of my own sanity (for my mother will surely call and give me an earful!), I will also address a principle that helps many people deal with the chaotic nature of life: faith. To a Christian, Faith is Tao, for God is Tao. God is all things, and the Way. Only God, a supreme being, can know the order of Chaos, for it is his hand which sets things in motion. His will is done because his intelligence far outstrips our puny, mortal minds. When Christians pray, they should pray to seek an understanding of God's way; to be one with his will. We will never receive what God does not already have in store for us. That is only Tao. We are trusting God to get us through the chaos in motion.

Ackerman does not wish to be the passenger in her own life. I prefer to sit back and experience things as they happen. I go with the flow, and hence I have very little stress. I could never be so foolish as to think that I can drive my own fate.

As an example: I have been working on several short stories, with no real agenda, timeline or purpose. I am ghostwriting an adaptation of a three-act play my mother wrote, as well as working on some Paleontological musings, in addition to a fantasy genre novel. I have certainly felt as if I am beating my head on the wall, for there isn't enough time in the day to do it all, and I have felt no real desire to write anything. Chaos takes over, and I throw up my hands and say 'it is Tao'; I ride the winds of fate and allow the stress cause by my inability to focus to simply melt away. I give in to fate, and apply a little faith.

A week or so ago, a dear friend, Michael Rowe, read through a parody I was toying with (for shits and grins. No real desire for it to ever see the publics' eyes.) He offered to include me in the third series of a well-known horror anthology that may or may not get off the ground (it's up to the publisher and other powers-that-be.) First, I was honored and humbled that he believed in my talents. Second, I have never written horror, and the challenge to do so has inspired me. Third, by focusing on this new genre, I have allowed my mind to settle concerning the other works in progress. I can now flip back and forth between the horror short story (which is quickly becoming a damned novel unto itself as I fill in the outline - send in the editors, please!) and the project that I am ghostwriting. My chaos has order once again. The experience will allow me to gain experience with the actual writing for publication process, which in turn will allow me to flounder less as I strive to complete The Decision for publication.

And so, with all due respect to Ackerman, I am more than willing to be the passenger in my own life. I not only have the chance to enjoy the views, but I am swept along the scenic route against my will, and the enrichment obtained from it is indeed breathtaking.

1 responded with...:

paris parfait said...

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