Throughout the universe, there is and has always been ultimately one defining force that holds responsibility for all that exists. This is Chaos. It is the uncontrollable awesomeness – spiraling haphazardly throughout all depths of oblivion – that is the key to all creation and all destruction, and to understand this is to understand the true nature of all things in existence. Chaos is both old and new. It is fire; it is water. It is a space nebula; it is an ocean. It is a rock; it is a flower. It is a Mother, a Father, and an unknown circumstance that looms eternally over each of us. Locally, we call it Nature. We do this in an attempt not to better understand it, but to make it appear more personal, more peaceful and kind, and more easily controllable when, in fact, it is everything but. To experience Nature is to experience a lack of control. In one Japanese haiku, the legendary poet, Basho, writes:
A still, old pond
A frog jumps in
In this he suggests that Nature’s chaos, though possibly disturbing, serves a greater cause of perpetual creation, sustenance, and therefore perpetual destruction; that, in order to make an omelet, you have to break a couple of eggs. In order to sustain a frog, the serenity of a pond must be disturbed. This is both the meaning of Nature and the source of its intrigue – the romanticism of impermanence. Everything must change. Nature has the power to create but not the power to control, inasmuch as Nature’s creations have no control over it. Nature is eternally temporary, and for man to truly be at peace with Nature, he must learn to accept not only its delights, but its inevitabilities as well.
In Basho’s poem of the frog, let’s suppose that the still, old pond is a representation of a Mother Earth – or even a Mother Universe – and the frog its human offspring. The frog lives almost oblivious to the fact that the pond is anything but his dominion. It is simply there for him to jump into and swim around at his leisure. He does not think that the pond is a separate entity, its creator that serves to sustain lives other than and equal to his own, that there may even be some creature lurking in the depths, waiting to eat the frog for the sake of its own survival. The frog has no control over what else lives in the pond. Conversely, the pond has no control either. The pond merely is – and through its existence some creatures have formed and evolved to feed off of it. This is the chaos of the pond ecosystem – each organism living independently together in an area of neither their nor the area’s choosing. Still, neither these organisms nor their host resist this cohabitation. They merely accept and adapt – the old and the new in a constant cycle of creation and destruction. This, as well, is the chaos of Nature, the only difference being Man’s desire to govern Nature to his intention, rather than accept its chaos.
Man has long prided himself in his ability to think, in his ability to ponder his surroundings and from this create art, music or architecture, to create poetry like Basho or to write essays like this one. But ultimately, where does thought lead us? Does it lead to a greater awareness of our surroundings? To enlightenment and inner peace? Or are those states to which we must return after thought has diverted us in the direction of desire and control and away from the embrace of the chaotic? Essentially, humanity has learned to reject chaos, to be untrusting of the unknown, and to be panicked by destruction; yet he embraces creation. Man is a creature with a gluttonous appetite for beauty. He craves it in all forms, so much so that he often loses sight of what it really means. Beauty, in the romantic sense, is not merely aesthetics; it is mortality. It is something which pleases us serendipitously but will not last. By this reasoning, art is perhaps the biggest hypocrisy of all. It is a recreation of the accidental, a moment made tedious, and a reflection of man’s desire to take the beauty of chaos and make it orderly.
We see this desire for order as well in humanity’s social structures. We realized early on that, as part of Nature, we have no control over even ourselves. Sequentially, we designated appropriate social behaviors – the etiquette and taboos of how we should allow ourselves to interact with each other. This was our plan to fight against our own chaotic nature – our plan to keep our ponds immaculate and free from intruders that might do us harm. We use so much effort to fight against nature and far less effort to accept its inevitable dominion. We would rather isolate than adapt. Ideally, humans – through their science – will become not only entirely, aesthetically beautiful but also invulnerable and eventually immortal. This is not only impossible, it is unnatural.
Humans enjoy Nature because of its beauty – and therefore its chaos. We enjoy gardening because it is a small dominion over nature. We can create, sustain, or destroy a piece of that which is, as a whole, uncontrollable. This makes us feel safer, as if we are the rulers over the world around us. It is a false sense of order. Our world’s Nature is only a small part of a vast universe, a pond within a pond within a pond, each more chaotic than the last. We have no control over the wind or the tides, just as Nature has no control over a man cutting down a tree, or genetically engineering enormous corn, or a frog jumping into a pond. We can only attempt to control our own actions, and that is a continual battle even within the mind of each person.
Nature holds a vast importance for Humanity. It is not only an origin but a goal as well. It is a Mother, our creator; it is a Father figure, whose actions we wish to duplicate; and it is a rival, whom we will choose eventually to either dominate or, hopefully, befriend as an equal. This is the true order of chaos – that everything is equal, and all things must pass. The only way for us to find true peace with Nature is to let go of control and instead make the effort to coexist with the inevitable because it is, in fact, impossible to avoid.