Embracing chaos

Preference for certainty pushes us into controlling chaos. Chaos is response to uncertainty. It develops when a little bit of uncertainty about the present situation grows rapidly as time passes. The rate at which it grows is exponential that it doubles or triples at every stage. All of us experience it. It surrounds us.

Let’s take climate and finance for instance. Despite our best efforts, we can’t predict the exact weather. It’s not because our technology isn’t capable. It’s not because our physicists and meteorologists aren’t smart enough. It's because weather is inconsistent and disorderly. Which means periodic measurements differ between weather stations. These differences lead to variations in weather predictions. The inability to predict with accuracy creates a basic uncertainty in us. And when things don't go as expected, our uncertainty increases exponentially, leaving us even more chaotic. Similarly, the complex structure of the banking industry creates a basic level of uncertainly in us. Therefore any friction in the industry would increase the level of uncertainty exponentially, leading us into chaos.

The trouble with treating chaos as a response to uncertainty is that it makes things worse. It's not going to restore order and certainty. However, it can bring about a sense of open-mindedness if it's treated as an experience; one that values unpredictability. This kind of thinking can help us examine life in interesting ways. For instance, it could explain why we rate a film, a book or a piece of music better than some other. Generally, a good film is one that we might want to watch again, a good book is one that we might want to read again, and a good piece of music is one that we might want to listen again. We tend to do so because they all have a little bit of chaotic unpredictability.

The beauty of chaos lies in exploring the uncertainty as an experience. It has to be listened to and lived through. The results may be uncertain, but certainly transformational. Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, spent a lot of time understanding chaos. The notion that experiencing chaos is essential for transformation is the fundamental thought of the Jungian philosophy. Real transformation is not the product of order and certainty. It is the product of embracing chaos and integrating into it. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche puts it aptly, ‘You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.’

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