One Tiny Little Step Towards Chaos
When I was a kid, I wanted to work at Dairy Queen so my family and I could enjoy free ice cream on demand. It was a perfect plan! Yet, here I am at 36, without a family and knowing that, with a little bit of taste under my belt, DQ ice cream really isn’t all that good.
I dreamed about being a fast food worker. Other little boys and girls dreamed about being firefighters or astronauts. I bet very few of us dreamed of being office workers or of sitting at a desk all day. Then why did most of us end up there?
Maybe we are attracted to stability or money. Maybe we chose the path that led us to where we are because it seemed to be the only thing available to us. But, how many people do you know who can say that they are living the life they dreamed of?
(I am sure that we all have friends who are perfectly happy with their chosen path. I hate them (in a loving sort of way). This article is not aimed at them.)
For a long time, I was on the path of what was supposed to make me happy. Although, now that I think of it, I have no idea what the hell that even means. A lot of people are in the same boat. The problem comes when we stay on the path that is supposed to make us happy and…we aren’t. Rather than question the path and the decisions that have put us there, we question ourselves. We think there is something wrong with us. It can really screw with your head when you realize that your life is a little…lifeless.
I read an article where the author talked about planning a “descent into chaos.” Elaina Elizabeth talks about abandoning the things that we have been taught will bring us happiness to search for the chaos of things that are unfamiliar.
She points out that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to leave your family, sell your possessions, and seek a guru in Bali. But, it just means breaking out of your comfort zone. I think it means finding something to do that, when you do it, is going to put butterflies in your stomach.
My own descent into chaos led me to move to Vietnam. If I am being completely honest, I have been sick to my stomach everyday for the past six months. I have not only embraced chaos but am currently making out with it like our plane is going down.
Your chaos could be drastic like mine or much most approachable: volunteering at a local hospital, visiting prisoners, feeding the homeless, or attending protests. Just pick something that you haven’t done before and, more importantly, something that you’ve thought about before in an honest moments but have made excuses to avoid.
If you ever had the desire to do something but haven’t because it wasn’t practical, or people would talk, or you didn’t have the time, or any other stupid excuse, that is what you should do.
Remember that you have nothing to lose. Steve Jobs said it best in his commencement address to Stanford University’s class of 2005:
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
None of us have anything to lose at all. There is no security. There is no stability. In fact, there is a little timer over your head right now, counting down the minutes of your life.
Elizabeth aims her article at 20-somethings but the message is applicable to everyone. I am 36-years-old (although I’ve been insisting I’m 27 for 9 years) and, to be blunt, I live hard. Barring growing lungs and livers in petri dishes or cybernetic engineering, my life is, at best, one-third over. And, at 35-years-old, I just got started.
It’s never too late to introduce a little chaos into your life. It’s never too late to move toward the life you dream of living. Just take one-step into chaos at a time. In in Vietnam but am already planning my next leap!