Saturday, November 22, 2014

Controlling Chaos, Channelling Crises, Delaying Despair

Wisdom is lived when chaos is accepted, routinely brought under control and can be tolerated patiently as struggles swarm.
In a former career, I would routinely rush to an emergency response centre, don the fire jacket and helmet, and jump behind the wheel of a fire tender or ambulance. Arriving on scene, obtaining information en route, there would be a SITREP (situation report) made as we further prepared to manage the incident – fire, chemical spill/release, rescue, etc. Every move we made, from the moment the emergency sirens sounded to the moment we knew exactly what we were dealing with and were actually managing the incident, was adrenalin-charged. But we were in the practice of deploying rote procedure, implementing rigid checklists, so the adrenalin didn’t overpower our ability to behave rationally and efficiently as individuals and as a team. Actually going into a hot zone (within seventy metres of the actual incident) was always quite the experience, mainly due to the equipment needed to be worn. Just walking toward a leaking chlorine drum dressed in a cumbersome fully-encapsulated suit and breathing apparatus was taxing for the unfit. In such situations, those of us who managed our emotions best in the chaos were more efficient and more reliable operators.
Life is often like that – responding to a chemical spill.
There are the unknowns. There are the emotions to contain. Then there is the ‘incident’ before us, capable of ‘exploding’ anytime we walk in to approach.
Life is an exercise of delaying despair, of seeing off the disaster at least for today.
In life, none of us gets the ‘handbook’ of instructions with which to face situations; even when we know how to deal with a situation, we then need a copious supply of courage. Sometimes, perhaps many times, courage is something we cannot find. We shrink or we avoid the conflict before us.
Each and every challenge we face involves its own chaos, and much of the human experience involves multiple forms at the same time. Those who learn to accept the chaos – those who learn to listen to the danger yet are not disarmed by it – these are the ones who live a present hope.
The managing of school pick-ups, many errands to run, trips to shopping centres, the array of tasks any given day presents; or the meetings that prevent us from getting to a mounting in-tray of emails or from making the required progress we need to make on vital projects; these can make joy just too many steps out of reach. We may quickly talk ourselves into despair if we don’t keep reminding ourselves that order from the chaos is inevitable if we just keep going and stay calm.
We need to find the joy in the moment; to slow down enough to think calmly through present demands.
Life rewards us most for the retention of perspective. To make the most of a situation we need to break it down and reorder the chaos. A crisis is there to challenge us to solutions. Think laterally. Don’t panic. Ignore the emotion of imagined disaster. Work with the chaos. Accept it. Embrace it as part of life.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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