Beauty and Chaos
I am sitting in an auditorium waiting to hear my daughter’s choir sing. The choir conductor is tuning her violin.
I have always loved the sound of tuning instruments – a combination of beauty and chaos in the orchestra pit with the anticipation of the performance that is to come. I remember my mother taking us to see the ballet, or a Gilbert & Sullivan production, my sister and I peeking into the orchestra pit to see the hidden musicians before the show began.
Life is like that: both chaos and beauty. The trick comes in being able to navigate the chaos while still keeping the beauty in sight.
Sometimes we can’t. We are so overwhelmed by the chaos that we can’t see any beauty anywhere. Sometimes in the thick of things we can’t see anything good. We are just holding on as hard as we can.
“Life is pain, Highness,” says the Man in Black to Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride, “Anyone who says differently is selling something.” And he is right. But it is what we do with our pain that makes the difference. Do we lash out at others? Do we hold people at arm’s length emotionally? Do we self-medicate through food or alcohol or Facebook? Or do we try to recognize our pain and the source of it, leaning into it so we can heal and grow?
If we are honest, we probably all do a bit of both. Sometimes a bit of denial or distraction is a way to cope. Sometimes this helps us to get through. If we always distract or deny, we may miss the chance for growth. Facing up to things is more likely to help us to move forward. The other day, upset about some sad news I had heard, I was irritable with my kids and cranky with my cat. After some tears came recognition of what really was upsetting me. I could admit that I hurt. I apologized to my kids (and my cat).
Recognizing pain is the first step. Grieving is the next. Allowing ourselves to feel the negative feelings helps to let them go. Like the tension that builds in music and is gradually released. The choir sings, blending voices, chaos and beauty floating to the sky.