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September 28th, 2018

A study of ancient myth and religion invariably starts with stories about the origin of everything.  This is commonly described as a ‘void’ or some kind of ‘chaos’.  From this strangely chaotic blank canvas, creation starts to happen and things pop into being.


This idea of things popping into being is an interesting one: for example, we might ask, at what point does a fighter jet pop into existence?  There is a definite point in the construction of a fighter jet when it goes from a non-functional state to a functioning state.  Is it still a fighter jet the moment before that final piece is put in that makes it functional? Or is it just a giant, semi-organized mess of parts?


Any act of creation requires these initial states.  We have to make a mess of things.  We have to take Pandora’s jar and lift the lid a little to let some of that original chaos out.  Like a toddler opening a toy box and pulling out all sorts of goodies to interact with.  Any parent knows just how much chaos seems to be required for learning and more importantly, for having a good time.


(It’s interesting to note how adults rely on substances to systematically force chaos back into their mentalities for enjoyment.  Alcohol is perhaps the most prevalent and obvious example of a ‘chaos aid’.  Unfortunately such an aid rarely leads to results of lasting value, particularly when one of the chief results is a short supply of memory.  But still we crave this chaos because we perhaps remember engaging in it so unselfconsciously as children and know what good learning can occur.)


The mess is diametrically opposed to the perfect ideal.  When, for example, we think of some project, or some endeavor, we picture the ideal outcome, the perfect result.  And this is one of the worst, most paralyzing traps of all, because it comes with the false notion that if we just think through something carefully enough, we can picture the outcome so perfectly that when we finally begin to take action it will be like tipping the first of a long line of dominoes and everything will systematically lead to the perfect outcome.  This is a pure mental trap.  First and foremost because the entry fee for any project is to engage with chaos, to unleash a mess, and then from that big pile of unorganized resources, pull out the necessary parts and pieces and organize them in such a fashion as to approximate the original idea.  The long line of dominoes for instance does not simply materialize.  We must open the box of dominoes and spill them out onto the floor and then pick them out one by one in order to build our chain reaction.


We will hear someone say, on occasion, “my life is a mess.”


And this generally means that things are chaotic and out of control.


But it also means that there’s probably a lot of untapped and unorganized resources at hand.


Saying, “my life is a mess,” is a negative spin on a ripe situation.


When in fact, with a shift in perspective, it could be the initial conditions required to create something truly awesome.


This episode references Episode 39: The Resources.

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Podcast Ep. 166: The Mess

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